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MOOSE JAW: The union representing police communication and clerical employees in Moose Jaw is calling upon the citys Board of Police of Commissioners to support contract demands for fair wages in the presentation of a brief this afternoon.

Our members have voted unanimously to take strike action, if necessary, to obtain an agreement, said Mary Kay MacDonald , a member of the Bargaining Committee for CUPE Local 9, which represents the 21 police civilian employees. We hope that the Board of Police Commissioners will reconsider its position at the bargaining table and negotiate fair compensation for the valuable work that we do.

After the strike vote was taken, bargaining resumed on January 15, but little progress was made. At a union meeting later that day, members voted unanimously to reject the employers latest offer.

The workers, who are predominantly women, work as communication officers, forensic technicians, administrative assistants, information system and victim services co-ordinators, court services and criminal investigation section assistants.

Our members play a vital role in supporting police services in the city of Moose Jaw, MacDonald said in the presentation to the Board of Police Commissioners.

We are the ones who take emergency calls and handle them appropriately so that the police can do their job, she said. At times we have unpleasant tasks such as searching female prisoners for weapons, needles and drugs and fingerprinting people who have been charged with an offence. We maintain criminal record information, organize court files and help prepare police budgets. Our work contributes greatly to the security of the community.

As in other sectors that are predominately female, our work has been undervalued and underpaid for years, said Gail Whitfield, a communications officer. We believe it is time to address the problem of low wages and begin to compensate us fairly for the work that we do.

The civilian police employees are seeking wage parity with their counterparts in Prince Albert, who receive 12 to 33 percent more in wages.

At the maximum wage rate, the Prince Albert police service pays their communications officers $4.67 more an hour or 32 percent more than Moose Jaw police services. A Resource/Systems Management Account Assistant in the Moose Jaw Police Service receives $4.53 less an hour than a similar position at the Prince Albert Police Service.

The brief notes that the salary of the mayor of Moose Jaw was recently increased by 16 percent to achieve parity with the salary of the mayor of Prince Albert. That city was also one of the comparators for city councillors in Moose Jaw whose salaries are based on an average of Prince Albert and North Battleford rates. Police salaries are also quite similar between Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.

We believe that our comparison with support staff at the Prince Albert Police Service is appropriate and justified, said Whitfield. The work of our positions is very similar and the size of our communities is the same. We see no reason why our wages should not be adjusted to reflect the wage rates of the Prince Albert Police Service support staff.

The CUPE brief notes that several recent contract settlements in Saskatchewans school board sector have included special equity adjustments for female classifications, some resulting in 30.9 percent wage hike.

The brief also points out that other clerical and administrative positions in Moose Jaw workplaces pay higher rates than clerical positions at the Moose Jaw Police Service.

Bargaining between the union and the Board of Police Commissioners began last May. The union’s last contract expired on December 31, 2000.

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For more information contact staff representative
Malcolm Matheson at 525-5874.
Copies of the brief are available upon request.