Members of the deaf community joined workers with the Canadian Hearing Society on the picket line in Belleville Monday, following a breakdown in contract talks.
Contract talks broke down Saturday night after four days of bargaining.
The striking workers, members of CUPE 2073 have been off the job since March 6, including those at the Canadian Hearing Society office at the Bayview Mall in Belleville.
They include hearing counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists and interpreters.
The labour stoppage affects a total of about 227 employees across Ontario. Employees from Kingston joined the picketers in Belleville.
Hearing Care Counsellor Janet Ellenberger, a striking employee from the Belleville office, says the contract holdup revolves around health benefits.
A union release says, “…workers’ sick leave and health plan, negotiated over a period of 40 years, are under attack. CHS wants to gut the sick leave provisions and health benefits originally intended to “break barriers” and help the predominantly female workforce deal with work that is mentally, emotionally and physically challenging.”
The Belleville office has three workers and the Kingston office has five.