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MILTON, Ont. – Residential and life skills support program counsellors for deaf, developmentally challenged individuals, have voted to ratify a first contract with their employer—the Bob Rumball Association for the Deaf (BRAD).

BRAD workers unionized with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) late in 2005. The new contract, focused on achieving better workplace rights and equity, comes after a difficult negotiations process with a difficult employer.

This is a real victory for the BRAD workers who believe that advocating for the deaf also includes advancing the rights of deaf workers in the workplace. Certainly workplace equity was the motivation for these dedicated workers, who were determined to emphasize ability over disability,” says CUPE National representative Daniela Scarpelli.

The new collective agreement provides for many improvements in the conditions of work for CUPE 4763 members including:

  • A grievance process that allows workers to challenge employer decisions that don’t follow the collective agreement;
  • A wage increase;
  • A good anti-harassment in the workplace provision that includes harassment by the employer;
  • Benefit and vacation improvements for part-time CUPE 4763 members.

CUPE 4763 president Tom Wall says the new contract is a good foundation for the front line staff at BRAD to build on and a validation that the fight of the 90 CUPE 4763 members, for fair wages and respect, is a win for all deaf workers. The new contract secures the first wage increase in nearly 10 years for some BRAD workers, and begins to level the playing field between BRAD workers and management.

Throughout the negotiation process, CUPE 4763 members received incredible support from many CUPE members and the broader deaf community.

The outpouring of support and solidarity helped the CUPE 4763 membership to stay strong, make gains, and advance equality for the deaf,” says Wall.

CUPE will provide an ASL interpreter for any media requesting an interview. Tom Wall can be reached at tomwall@rogers.blackberry.net .

For more information, please contact:

Daniela Scarpelli
CUPE National Representative
(416) 458-0588

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774