CUPE rejects Canadian Hearing Society's proposal, impacting Deaf and hard of hearing clients

TORONTO, March 5, 2017 /CNW/ - The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) has been working diligently, since January 12, 2017 and through this weekend, to achieve a collective agreement with CUPE 2073, the local representing CHS's unionized employees. This evening, talks broke down when CUPE 2073 walked out of negotiations and declared a strike across the province starting at 7:00 a.m. Monday, March 6, 2017.

CHS's goal is to achieve a collective agreement that is sustainable and ensures a financially responsible and accountable organization.

"We are disappointed that the union has chosen to strike and we will continue to work to get them back to the bargaining table," says Gary Malkowski, Vice-President at CHS and Executive Labour Relations Team member. "The offer we presented would allow the Canadian Hearing Society to continue providing the professional services and programs that benefit Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians. As always, the people we serve are at the heart of all of our decisions that impact operations."

The Canadian Hearing Society presented a robust, equitable deal that is appropriate for the not-for-profit sector. Key items included:

  • Retroactive wage increases for the last three years. These increases are in addition to annual step increases through a wage grid, averaging 2.5%, which many unionized employees continued to receive over the last four years;
  • The extension of the current contract to include an additional year from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, incorporating a wage increase along with a 1% employer-matched pension increase, effective April 1, 2017;
  • Maintaining the group benefits, including health, dental and life insurance coverages at their current levels; and 
  • Modernization of the paid sick day program that:
    • includes a generous buyout of unused sick days which employees have banked for payout upon retirement to reduce the significant financial and operational impact of such a liability (This is consistent with the removal of similar antiquated and costly practices from collective agreements in many sectors across the province). 
    • brings the number of annual paid sick days per employee to industry-appropriate levels.
    • introduces an industry standard 100% employer-paid short-term disability program that would provide a support system to bridge the gap between employees' paid sick days and the long-term disability program.

"Many of our clients rely on CHS services to support their essential and daily living needs to fully participate in society," said Malkowski. "In light of CUPE's decision to strike, our focus right now is to provide our clients with the best possible care and service under these disappointing circumstances."

He adds that CHS came prepared to bargain the collective agreement to a conclusion. "We fully expected to reach a deal over the weekend, given the significant movement on our part and the overall monetary value of our proposal. It is unfortunate for all that CUPE Local 2073 has chosen to strike rather than recommend our offer to their members," he said.

Open offices and available services during the strike:

The following are the offices that are open and services that are available at reduced service levels during the strike:

  • Open offices: The Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor, Sudbury, London and Peel (Mississauga) offices will be run by management staff.
  • Communications devices: Clients can purchase communications devices at the open offices (see above) or online at www.chs.ca/shop.
  • Interpreting Services: Priority will be given to clients in need of critical services, namely emergency and essential events. Booking processes remain the same.
  • Counselling Services: A triage service for CONNECT and General Support Services will be available during the strike; however, regular counselling services, are not available.
  • Employment Services: Critical support will be provided to clients at risk of losing their jobs, but other employment services are not available.
  • Hearing Health Care services:
    • Basic hearing aid repair services are available at the Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor, Sudbury, and Peel (Mississauga) offices.
    • Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists at our Toronto office are accepting patients.
    • Audiology services, including hearing tests, hearing aid adjustments, and speech-language pathology appointments, are not available.

Direct contact information and details for these programs are available on www.chs.ca

About the Canadian Hearing Society

Trusted since 1940, the Canadian Hearing Society has been providing industry-leading services, programs and products to Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians to ensure barrier-free access and increased quality of life. It is an independent, registered non-profit organization that reinvests proceeds from product and program sales back into community services, the focus of our business. For more information on our services we invite you to visit www.chs.ca.

SOURCE The Canadian Hearing Society

For further information: For media inquiries, please contact: Kara-Ann Miel, Director, Marketing & Communications, Canadian Hearing Society, Voice or Text: 416-577-7993, Email: kmiel@chs.ca, www.chs.ca


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