Striking workers at the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) are taking to the airwaves with a new radio ad in Toronto. The ad urges the employer back to the table to resolve the strike through negotiations.
“We are concerned that the employer has not agreed to a single face-to-face bargaining session since the strike began on March 6th,” said Stacey Connor, president of Local 2073. “Sending ultimatums that it’s our way or the highway, through the mediator, is not the way this strike gets resolved. We need to do the actual work of sitting down for a dialogue about what’s in dispute here.”
“Bargaining involves the parties talking to each other,” said Barbara Wilker-Frey, CUPE National Representative. We hear media reports of CHS spokespeople saying ‘we’re engaged in the process.’ What does that mean, precisely, when we offer seven consecutive days to bargain and we get take-up on not a single one? Having a conversation with the mediator is not bargaining.”
“We are concerned, as employees, that the CHS is losing its way,” said Connor. “We see them pushing the agency in a direction that is not about serving the Deaf, Oral Deaf, Deafened and Hard of Hearing community. We see them ignoring our invitation to bargain in favour of allowing a strike to linger on – that hurts the community. We need them to show respect for the community, and their employees. As we say in our radio ad: hope they are listening.”
The striking workers have been without a contract since 2013. 90% of them are women, and many of them are Deaf. They’ve gone four years without a wage increase. CUPE Local 2073 represents 227 counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists, interpreters/interpreter trainers, clerical support, program coordinators, program assistants, information technology specialists, and other staff at 24 Canadian Hearing Society offices across Ontario.