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In a move to intimidate strikers, police laid charges against 15 picketers at the Kirkland Lake Association for Community Living, after an altercation with a van carrying management and scabs.

We’ve had problems with the police from the beginning,” says Fran Ludwick, president of CUPE 3440. “Our members have been taunted by relatives of management. One even pushed one of us, smashing a video camera and we pressed charges.

Media seem to be focusing on violence by picketers, while management and friends taunt us with harassing calls to ‘start behaving like women and know our place’ and swearing at us,” says Ludwick.

The local is launching a new media campaign to encourage community support. “We’re going to the community to ask them to treat us like they would if we worked in the mines,” says Ludwick. “Would they tolerate scabs from out of town, prolonging a strike, if we were miners?”

A community rally is planned for October 20, with members from other Northern Ontario locals attending to offer their support.

Local 3440 is seeking drug benefits and a basic pension plan.

CUPE members and supporters can send solidarity and support messages to CUPE 3440 by fax to (705) 567-3102 or by e-mail to local3440@hotmail.com.