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EDMONTON - The union representing clerical, secretarial, teacher assistants and other support staff at Edmonton Public Schools has voted to accept a new contract with their school board.

CUPE Local 3550 President Trudy Grebenstein said that the majority of those members present at the Polish Hall yesterday voted to accept a new contract giving employees a 5.25% wage increase over two years. The Public School Board also agreed to remove one of the steps in the wage grid, meaning employees achieve the maximum pay rate earlier in their careers.

In recognition of long-service, permanent members with eight or more years of service on August 31, 2005 will receive a bonus of $175 each. That will affect well over half of the Local’s current permanent membership.

“While our members are not totally happy with this agreement, they recognize that their Bargaining Committee had some challenges, considering the amount of dollars that our Board had available.” said Grebenstein. “The local’s bargaining team worked very hard to negotiate something for everyone.”

Two other Edmonton Public Schools CUPE locals, representing the maintenance and custodial workers, also announced the results of their membership votes yesterday. All three staff groups were in bargaining at the same time and had achieved similar agreements.

Grebenstein credited a high level of co-ordination among all three CUPE locals for the settlement.

“We were able to work together in a way that made each of our three groups stronger,” said Grebenstein. “Clearly, there was strength in unity and solidarity.”