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Wadena - Contract talks between school support workers and the Wadena School Division resumed this afternoon with the assistance of department of labour conciliator George Wall.

More than 80 school support workers in the division, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, began rotating job action on April 9 to show their displeasure with the school board’s demands for contract concessions. The board is seeking more than 80 changes, including reduced seniority rights and many other takeaways.

Schools in Wadena, Kelvington, Rose Valley, Quill Lake, Archerwill, Lintlaw and Lakeside Hutterite Colony are affected by the contract dispute.

The CUPE education workers – teacher assistants, secretaries, caretakers, maintenance staff and library technicians – have been without a new agreement since December 31, 2000.

Although they have been to the bargaining table 23 times, little progress has been made towards a new collective agreement.

CUPE Local 3087 President Donna Zarowny says school support workers are looking for a reasonable offer from the employer, one that builds on the existing agreement.

“We need a significant wage increase just to bring us up to the provincial average,” explains the local president, stating most members’ pay increases over the last 10 years have not even kept pace with the cost-of-living.

“When it comes to provincial pay and benefit comparisons, education workers in this school division are in the basement,” says Zarowny. “Although we don’t expect to move up to the penthouse in this bargaining round, we are looking for a bit of sunlight,” she states.

The two sides have not met since March 17.

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For more information contact:
CUPE Local President Donna Zarowny at 338-2091
Negotiating committee member Sheila Bindig at 338-3907