KITCHENER, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 16, 2017) - Kitchener/Waterloo area Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) staff on strike for a deal that ensures they can provide high-quality, reliable and accessible services for clients of the CHS will get a boost on the picket line tomorrow (Friday, March 17, 2017).
Colleagues from the agency's Hamilton and Peel offices, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario president Fred Hahn, as well as community supporters and labour allies from Kitchener/Waterloo are joining the CUPE 2073 picket line at 120 Ottawa Street North, for a rally at 10 a.m.
CHS workers are determined to preserve the things that allow them to perform their stressful and demanding jobs at levels that best serve the members of Kitchener/Waterloo Deaf, Oral Deaf, Deafened and Hard of Hearing communities.
In particular, workers' sick leave and health plan, negotiated over a period of 40 years, are under attack. CHS wants to gut the benefits that were originally intended to break barriers and help the predominantly female workforce cope with work that is mentally, emotionally and physically challenging.
It's not just a new contract that these dedicated workers are striking for, says Hahn. "This is a struggle to regain the heart and soul of an organization, where regrettably new management has lost perspective of what's truly important: the quality services that tens of thousands of people in the deaf and hard of hearing community rely on, and a healthy work environment for the workers who provide the services."
CHS's management includes a name familiar to Kitchener/Waterloo residents. Julia Dumanian is now CHS's CEO. She's also the former Cambridge Memorial Hospital president fired after a provincially-appointed supervisor was brought in to look for ways to deal with the hospital's $6-million deficit. Media reports that the hospital's public records show that from 2007 to the end of her term in 2009, Dumanian racked up over $160,000 in expenses and received $650,000 in severance from the hospital, after she was let go.
227 CUPE 2073 members work at 24 CHS office across Ontario, as counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists, interpreters/interpreter trainers, clerical support, program coordinators, program assistants, and information technology specialists. The majority of them earn below $75,000 a year for specialized, skilled work. They have not had a wage increase for four years and have been on strike since March 6.