Canadian Hearing Society workers on strike

Unions

Workers at the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) have been on strike in a conflict that is interpreted as financial but also cultural, reports Ontario’s Globe and Mail.

Unionized workers at the Canadian Hearing Society have been out on strike for just over a month. The organization has more than 220 workers, operating as interpreters, speech-language pathologists, counsellors, literacy instructors and audiologists. They provide services to clients who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and they have not had a contract for the last four years.

Part of the conflict concerns salaries, but there is also an issue surrounding sick-leave. The union wants sick-leave provisions to remain as they are, claiming that the work is stressful and demanding. The employer, on the other hand, wants to buy back unused sick days that have been banked, and have a third party determine who should be eligible for short-term disability.

There is, however, also a cultural aspect to the conflict. The CHS has operated for over 70 years and serves a diverse group of people, including the culturally deaf (people who view deafness as a culture, not a disease), the oral deaf (people with profound hearing loss who use speech to communicate), the deafened (those who grow up hearing, but lose their hearing), and the hard-of-hearing (people whose hearing loss ranges from mild to severe and who tend to use hearing aids), the article explains. The profound philosophical difference between rehabilitation and service provision has come to the fore in this conflict.

Source: CTV News; The Globe and Mail.

C.S.