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Strike continues at Thunder Bay's Canadian Hearing Society

Andrea Horwath made a stop Thursday at the Canadian Hearing Society picket line in Thunder Bay.
Andrea Horwath TBT

THUNDER BAY – Andrea Horwath made a stop Thursday at the picket line, set up in front of the Canadian Hearing Society office in Thunder Bay.

As we reported last week, CUPE Local 2073 launched a province wide strike after the two sides failed to reach a new contract.

Thursday marked day nine of the stalemate, and Horwath said she came here to stand in solidarity with the workers.

“When it comes to sickness people should stay home and when they are staying home sick from work it shouldn’t mean they are docked pay,” Horwath said.

“I don’t know the details about these sick days in particular, but I know overall as a principal when people are sick they are sick and they shouldn’t be punished financially for being sick.”

It was a bigger crowd than usual for the half dozen local employees who are out on strike, as union members from OPSEU also joined the picketers.

According to CUPE, one of the main issues is the Hearing Society's plan to change their policy for unused sick days.

Jocelyn Cunningham works as an interpreter for the agency and she calls the proposal “ill-defined” and believes agreeing to it would be like signing a blank cheque.

“Basically they are taking our old sick banking away and putting it into a third party who would decide whether people qualify for sick or not,” Cunningham said.

“Even if you do qualify it’s not the same standard that we had before, so there’s major rollbacks and they are gutting our plan and asking us to sign off and trust us on it without seeing details.”

CUPE members say they have tried to resume contract talks three different times, but no dates have been set for getting back to the bargaining table.