Sudbury

Ontario Canadian Hearing Society workers could be on the picket line Saturday

Over 200 workers at Ontario's Canadian Hearing Society offices could be on the picket lines Saturday if mediated talks Friday between their union and management don't produce a new deal.

Work stoppage would affect 220 workers across Ontario

Audiologists, and a number of other employees with the Canadian Hearing Society in Ontario, could be on strike Saturday if a new deal isn't struck. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Over 200 workers at Ontario's Canadian Hearing Society offices could be on the picket lines Saturday if mediated talks Friday between their union and management don't produce a new deal.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents the counsellors, audiologists, speech language pathologists and support staff that work at the 24 CHS sites across Ontario.  According to the union, the workers have been without a contract for four years. Workers will be in a legal strike position March 4.

"It's unpredictable, right now," Stacey Connor, the CUPE union local president in Sudbury said of the current labour situation.

"We, as a local, are optimistic. We know we don't want to give up this fight and we're willing to take our entire weekend to meet with them if we have to."

About 70 hearing society workers are employed across northern Ontario.

The society says it wants to renew the collective agreement on sustainable terms and that the goal is to ensure it can continue to provide much-needed services and programs to clients.

'What we want is to go back to the kind of agency that we used to be'

According to the union, working conditions are being attacked as part of, what workers called, a shift in priorities at the hearing society.

"What we want is to go back to the kind of agency that we used to be, we were a community service, social service-focused agency," Connor said.  In a written release, CUPE charged that shift has been towards more of a profit-seeking outlook.

The Canadian Hearing Society provides a variety of services to people who are deaf or have other hearing impairments.

"Our members are prepared for a strike if it is the only way to get our message across," Barbara Wilker-Frey, a national representative for CUPE was quoted as saying in the release.

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