Canadian Hearing Society workers still on strike after talks break off

After four days of mediated bargaining sessions, negotiations have broken off between the Canadian Hearing Society and CUPE Local 2073. Talks came to a halt Saturday when CUPE rejected CHS’s latest offer and elected to remain on strike.

The CHS says its offer would have provided employees with retroactive wage improvements, increased pension contributions, a new employer-paid short-term disability program and a significant buyout of accumulated sick leave banks.

Gary Malkowski, CHS Vice-President and Executive Labour Relations Team member said, “It is truly unfortunate for all of the people that we serve that CUPE has rejected our proposal. We came to the table expecting CUPE to bargain all proposal elements.”

CUPE says it made significant moves to meet the employer’s stated needs, but insists that the CHS is trying to eliminate contract rights. CUPE Local 2073 President Stacey Connor said, “I’m disappointed to say that… our employer has not come anywhere close to offering a fair contract.”

CUPE members have been working without a new contract for four years. They have been off the job since March 6.

The 227 employees in 24 offices across Ontario work as counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists, interpreters/interpreter trainers, clerical secretaries, program coordinators, program assistants, and information technology specialists. Twelve of the striking members work at the society's Wellington Street office in London.

The Canadian Hearing Society is a registered, non-profit organization that provides services and products to deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians to ensure barrier-free access. Proceeds from product and program sales are reinvested back into community services.