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With only days to go before school starts in Wadena, Saskatchewan, the areas school support workers are hitting the picket line, effective August 25.

No more rotating strikes, says Sheila Bindig, vice-president of CUPE 3078, which represents the 80 workers. The school board has had all summer to negotiate with us, but we havent heard a peep from them since we released our last proposal on June 30.

The workers including teaching assistants, library technicians, caretakers, secretaries, maintenance personnel and others have been without a contract since December 31, 2000. Since last April, theyve done 11 days of rotating strikes. Besides being among the lowest paid school support workers in Saskatchewan, most members are only part-time, working 3 to 5 hours per day. Theyre fighting for benefits that many people in the province take for granted, like dental and optical plans, as well as full wages for holidays and inservices. Wadena is a small town, about 200 km east of Saskatoon.

In my mind, were doing the best thing, says Bindig. It seems the board isnt taking us, or their responsibility to negotiate, seriously. They wont even look at us, so theyre giving us no choice but to strike.

Bindig admits there will be disruptions for parents and students, when children return to classes on Thursday. But she says the Wadena school board had ample time to avoid those disruptions. There have been over 25 bargaining sessions in the past two and a half years, with no resolution.

Bindig says parents and taxpayers can help out by contacting their school trustees. Phone and say youre not happy, she says. Voters have a direct say in how their schools are managed, especially with a trustee election less than two months away.

If youre in Saskatchewan, please call the Wadena school trustees and urge them to end this strike now! Also, e-mail the Wadena School Division office: wsd@div.wsd46.sk.ca

Rose Olson (Chair) 338-3369
Kelly Berlinic (Vice-Chair) 383-2691
Ivy Bakken 323-4949
Terry Horan 327-4849
Lyle Sunderland 383-2665
Kathy Daviduk 338-2606
Jodi Johnson 327-4279
Jerry Klassen 325-4457
Melba Desjarlais 338-3838
Glenn Shore 324-2002