Local 2073 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 2073) which represents 227 counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists, interpreters/interpreter trainers, clerical support, program coordinators, program assistants, information technology specialists and other staff at 24 Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) offices across Ontario, is looking to move forward in their contract negotiations tomorrow, but is prepared to strike, if necessary, union representatives have indicated.

The members of CUPE 2073 have been without a contract for the past four years and are facing major rollbacks to their health benefits in negotiations with the Canadian Hearing Society. The two parties are scheduled to meet with a provincially-appointed mediator tomorrow in a final attempt to reach an agreement before the strike deadline on 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The union has indicated that, if a deal cannot be reached, workers will take to the picket lines on Monday, March 6, at CHS offices across Ontario.

“Four years without a contract is too long. It’s time to settle this,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, speaking at a press conference this morning. “The Canadian Hearing Society needs to understand that the vital services it provides to communities are the result of the hard work, talent and dedication of the members of CUPE Local 2073. Our members fight, every day, to ensure fairness and dignity for the communities they serve, and they deserve nothing less from their employer. The CHS needs to negotiate a fair contract now.”

President of CUPE 2073, Stacey Connor, also spoke at the press conference, stressing the need to wrap up the current round of negotiations. “Our goal tomorrow is to reach an agreement that will allow both parties to put the past four years behind us and begin to focus on the future,” Connor said. “But we must reach an agreement that maintains the necessary health benefits to allow us to do our jobs, and the necessary wage improvements that will prevent us from falling further behind.”

The workers are calling on supporters to send messages to the employer, urging them to reach a fair settlement and prevent a strike.