[Cincinnati, OH] - The Southwest Ohio Legal Aid Society employees overwhelmingly voted yes for their union - The Southwest Ohio Legal Aid Brigade Union. Eligible employees voted in favor of a union and were to be represented by AFSCME Ohio Council 8. 

The organizing campaign first began in early March of 2023 when Union-supportive employees (including staff attorneys, paralegals, intake specialists, secretaries, and other nonmanagement staff) read a letter to management that outlined the key reasons employees were organizing. Workplace concerns included pay that failed to keep pace with inflation, stressful workloads, a lack of transparent standards, and unclear expectations that resulted in high rates of turnover and loss of institutional knowledge. A majority of employees determined the only way these issues would be properly addressed was through collective action and forming a union. 

Though Legal Aid’s administration did not voluntarily recognize SOLAB (Southwest Ohio Legal Aid Brigade), pro-union employees and AFSCME Ohio Council 8 filed an election petition with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). The NLRB set the federally run union election for an in-person secret ballot vote for May 3rd, 2023. The election was held at two separate times, and employees were provided ample notice and opportunity to vote in a secret ballot process. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of union representation. 

The Southwest Ohio Legal Aid Brigade believes that having a union and being able to address their concerns collaboratively with management is consistent with the mission and purpose of The Southwest Ohio Legal Aid Society. Employee union members are looking forward to bargaining and negotiating their first contract. It will be an important step towards addressing the difficult issues they began organizing around. 

Morgan Rahe a Health Law Partnership Legal Services Coordinator with Southwest Ohio Legal Aid Services shared her thoughts around the union victory “The results of this election were gratifying. It solidified what I’ve known since we started this organizing drive - SOLAB employees have committed to our clients and this community and each other. By winning our union we now  have a voice, we are not only able to continue to provide quality legal representation for those that need it, but we will finally be able to collectively advocate for ourselves and the workplace issues that affect our well-being at Southwest Ohio Legal Aid Society.”