(WINDSOR, ON) – Staff at Canadian Hearing Society offices across Ontario, including one in Windsor, have been working without a contract for four years. Although they will be in a strike or lockout position on March 4, an eleventh hour meeting with a provincially appointed mediator has been scheduled for Friday, March 3.
The workers represent a wide range of counsellors, audiologists, speech and language pathologists, and various support staff. They provide a number of services to the culturally deaf, oral deaf, hard of hearing, and deafened, such as interpretation, mental health, and employment services, and are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The union, in a prepared statement, alleges CHS working conditions, “… are being attacked as part of a shift in priorities at the organization.”
According to the union’s statement, CHS employees and others, “… feel the organization has moved from a service provider by and for deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people to a more business and profit-driven entity. It has been noted that during this time the vast majority of newly hired executives are not from the deaf community.”
CUPE National’s staff representative, Barbara Wilker-Frey, confirms the union has been, “… seeing a shift in the CHS from a focus on providing services to a more profit-seeking client relationship. This round of negotiations we are seeing an attack on workers’ health benefits and working conditions instead of a partnership between members of the same community.”
Wilker-Frey added that once the matter is settled, the union would like to, “… sit down in partnership and figure out how we move forward. We want to be seen as a partner in this organization, not an enemy.”
The Society has not commented publicly on the labour situation.