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Aurora - Locked out Yellow Brick House shelter and outreach counsellors say they are optimistic a resolution to a labour impasse can be found after a fruitful day of negotiations ended with the Union and the Employer agreeing to meet again on February 19th.

Yesterday marked the first day of bargaining since shelter management cancelled scheduled negotiations early in January and then proceeded to lock out shelter staff and move shelter residents to insecure facilities on January 24th.

Since the lock out began three weeks ago, there has been a tremendous outpouring of support from people in the community and former residents of the shelter, for the 38 shelter and outreach counsellors, who are members of Local 3636 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

We have been very clear from the beginning of negotiations, that our goal is for all the experienced and able counsellors at Yellow Brick House to continue to provide services to women and children in crisis. We are very optimistic that the shelter and outreach services will soon reopen, so we can again provide care and guidance to the women in our community who need housing and support, says Joan Smith president of CUPE 3636.

Yellow Brick House management and the board of directors locked out the counsellors when they voted against an offer that would result in the termination of nine experienced counsellors as part of a shift to the provision of clinical assessment services at the agency.

For years, activists in the sector have warned against some womens shelters focused on securing additional provincial funding moving to the provision of clinical services, such as mental health assessment and addiction counselling.

In addition to returning to the bargaining table next week, the Union and the Employer will face each other at an Ontario Labour Relations Board hearing. Early in negotiations the Union filed an unfair labour practice against the Employer. That complaint will be heard by the Labour Board on Monday, February 16th.

For more information contact:
Joan Smith, President CUPE Local 3636, (416) 505-9603
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications, (416) 578-8774

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