After 25 bargaining sessions that took place over the course of two years, Legal Aid workers with CUPE 1949 have signed a tentative agreement.

“This is not just good news for our members, it’s a major victory for our most vulnerable citizens, who rely on legal aid services in Saskatchewan,” said Wanda Towstego, president of CUPE 1949.  “Our bargaining committee fought tirelessly to bring this about, and we are hopeful that our members will support this deal.”

The five-year deal will see a wage increase of one per cent in year three, and two per cent in each of years four and five.  The agreement also includes a “me too” clause if Public Service General Employees achieve higher wage settlements or an increase to pensions.

In addition, members will see an increase in vision care benefits.  Coverage for glasses will go from $300 to $500, and eye examination coverage will go from $100 to $125.  The other major improvement is for vacations.  Members will now be eligible for four weeks of vacation after 7 years instead of 8, and the CUPE 1949 bargaining committee successfully fought off concessions with respect to sick leave and hours of work.

Over the next few weeks, ratification meetings will be held with each of the 13 Legal Aid offices, with the goal of completing the meetings by early August.

In recent years, the Legal Aid sector has been under assault in virtually every region of Canada, including Saskatchewan.  But this agreement proves that through hard work and perseverance, progress can be made.