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McCreary, MB - This backgrounder relates to a News Release from the Turtle River School Division Superintendent Bill Main, of December 5th, 2005.

We feel obligated to respond to the Release, but we do not think it appropriate to engage in a debate through the media. We have distributed information to the public directly and through the media, but we think that negotiations are best done through dialogue and the intervention of authorized professionals (such as the Conciliation Officer of the Department of Labour). This statement is for news background and we remain available for interviews.

We see the news release as an example of how the Trustees have distorted information on what has been happening during bargaining. It would appear that the Trustees prefer to threaten union members rather than to bargain directly with us.

Two important points raised in the release are untrue.

  • They say we “had reached agreement on salary issues for three classification of workers.”

    We say there was no agreement of the union. During bargaining, the bargaining committee may reach tentative or general agreement on some issues, but there is no agreement from the union until members vote and say so. This did not happen.

  • They say the union “verbally notified the Conciliation Officer that they were amending their position and were now seeking wage parity for all classifications.”

    We say that this was a position the union had introduced from the beginning of bargaining. To make it sound like the union was adding new issues in mid bargaining is a distortion, likely intended to make the Trustees sound reasonable and the union unreasonable.

The news release also notes that the Trustees have accused the union of “unfair labour practice” before the Manitoba Labour Board. We have seen the application to the Board and we are going to respond formally. There is no grounds for the accusation and we see this as another threat by the Trustees. We have felt bullied by the Trustees in the past, and this seems to be more of the same.


The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than a half-million women and men. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members working in health care facilities, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services. About 4,000 of these members work in 25 of Manitoba’s school divisions.

For information, contact:

Doug McLaughlin, CUPE National Rep. - (204) 725-8888

Dennis Lewycky, CUPE Communications Rep. - (204) 223-6805

On the internet, information is available at www.cupe.mb.ca or www.cupe.ca

Union Strike Headquarters is at 606 Burrows Road in McCreary. Phone/fax 204-835-2718