The Communist Party of Canada-Ontario extends its full support to the members of Local 2073 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), who have been on strike since March 6 against the Canadian Hearing Society at 24 offices around the province. The 227 CUPE members work at the CHS as counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists, interpreters/ interpreter trainers, clerical support, program coordinators, program assistants and information technology specialists. The strike has had a huge impact on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community due to the suspension of much-needed services.
The CUPE workers have been without a contract for 4 years. The strike action was taken after management demanded that the union give up its sick day provisions in their collective agreement. Management offered to buy back the sick days that workers had in their bank and negotiate a short-term disability program. The union stands firm on their demand for a fair and equitable sick plan and a fair wage increase; their work is very stressful and often leads to repetitive strain injuries.
Both parties were back at the bargaining table at the end of March, but after 4 days the talks broke off again. Why? Because management would not back off their demand to implement one of the worst short-term disability plans in existence.
The local stands by its support of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community and encourages the CHS to support the cultural work that it does supporting its community members. The local supports a social services approach for their community, while management has moved toward a medical model that brings in income through fees for services. This response, according to management, is to address flat-lined budgets and donor fatigue. Coincidentally, CHS managers are on the Sunshine list – the list of those executives that made over $100,000 last year.
The strike illustrates privatization by stealth, and the Provincial government is at fault for starving social service agencies through budget cuts. Vital social services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community are at risk and cannot be funded by switching to a for-profit model.
The Communist Party demands:
- Intervention by the Wynne government, to end the CHS strike and force CHS to agree to a fair contract that includes decent wages and sick benefits
- An immediate halt to the provincial government’s privatization-by-stealth strategy by fully funding provincial social services;
- A provincial Labour Bill of Rights that guarantees the right to organize, bargain collectively, and strike;
- Progressive tax reform, and the reversal of two decades of corporate tax cuts that currently total $18 billion in lost revenue each year in Ontario.
Picket lines are up at all the offices around the province and community support is widespread. Rallies have taken place at every picket line and spirits remain high. We will continue our active solidarity with the workers of CUPE 2073, until this struggle is won.
Provincial Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) ~ April 10, 2017