For personal reasons, there are certain communities that are near and dear to this blogger’s heart. The Deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing constituencies served by the Canadian Hearing Society are in that category. So, reading about the on-going labour struggles between the union and management of this particular organization raises conflicting emotional and intellectual responses for someone who has sat on both sides of that particular table.
The Canadian Hearing Society provides services to thousands of people in Ontario who are Deaf, deafened or hard-of-hearing. It is a unique organization in that the service providers are also members of the communities that they serve. Both employees and management members use the services of the organization, such as sign-language interpreters, and are active in the promotion of consumer advocacy.
As of the writing of this blog, the employees of the Canadian Hearing Society (represented by CUPE) are on strike. They have been without a renewed collective agreement for four years and have been unable to negotiate a new agreement with their employer.
As a result of the on-going strike action the parties have now received a fair bit of media attention.
Among the many unfortunate things that happen in any strike is that the parties are unable to sit down together and communicate with each other. Instead, they start to ‘negotiate’ their perspectives through the media. As we see in both of these news articles, each side presents the rightness of their respective positions. Both the union and the management side have a valid rationale for explaining the position in which they find themselves. Unfortunately, this approach is not constructive. As we may experience in our own lives, the more we tell someone else about our story, the more attached we become to our own version of its events.
The same thing happens when parties start to tell their negotiations stories through the media. Instead of communicating with each other, the parties are now communicating at each other.
As a result, the parties become further and further entrenched with no resolution in sight. Until these particular parties are able to sit down and re-establish communications, it does not seem that this strike will have a successful resolution any time soon.
- What are the ‘issues’ for each party causing the strike?
- What would your approach be to bring these parties together for resolution?
- How can the employer re-establish a positive public image with its community members and employees?