AuroraYellow Brick House shelter and outreach counsellors have voted to reject a final contract offer by their employer that included the termination of nine staff members. Taken on Friday, the Ministry of Labour supervised vote was forced by Yellow Brick House management under a little-used provision in the labour code. Employers seldom opt to use the strong-arm tactic, because they rarely win the votes.
Had our employer had any respect for us as workers - or for that matter if they had any smarts - they would have done their homework. Employers traditionally lose forced votes. Ultimately these votes solidify the resolve of workers to stand up to employer intimidation, says Colleen Johnson a Yellow Brick House shelter counsellor and spokesperson for Local 3636 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
At issue, is a workplace re-organization that would result in the termination of nine counsellors, who are all union activists and who collectively have 75 years of experience working at the Aurora womens shelter. For months, Local 3636 members have endeavoured to negotiate a new contract, along with a fair process for the re-organization. They have worked to avoid a labour dispute that would disrupt services for women fleeing abusive relationships. But Yellow Brick House management has stymied the bargaining process at every turn.
In November, they walked away from negotiations and immediately filed for a no board report, that put them in a legal lockout position by early December. Then the employer delivered a final contract offer directly to Local 3636 members homes. This offer included a whopping wage hike for some of those employees who are not targeted for firing. During the holiday season shelter management applied to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for a forced, supervised final offer vote, and then cancelled two days of scheduled negotiations.
The employer thought they could bribe some of us with a hefty wage increase. Well it didnt work. All we have to say to them is, instead of resorting to more bullying tactics, get back to the negotiating table and bargain fairly, says Johnson, who is hopeful that the labour ministry mediator will demand that the employer return to bargaining as soon as possible.
For more information please contact:
Colleen Johnson, Counsellor, Yellow Brick House
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications