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CALGARY Picket lines will be up Thursday morning at Canadian Blood Services locations in Calgary and in Lethbridge, as workers walk out for better pay and more recognition of their critically important work.

The workers, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees local 1846, collect and distribute blood and blood products in the region. Theyve been without a contract since April 2002. Their work is part of the well-functioning blood supply network across Canada. The Centre Director regularly tells the staff that they work at the most efficient and productive blood collection centre in Canada.

In the 11 years Ive worked here, the volume and productivity of our members has increased dramatically. But wages havent. Its time to value our skilled work and our vital role in keeping blood products flowing where they are needed, says CUPE 1846 President Kim Storebo.

The more than 80 CBS workers are mainly clinical assistants, as well as those working with donors, providing administrative and technical support and transporting blood products.

Were constantly meeting new and stricter regulations for the safe collection and delivery of blood. At the same time, the cost of our services is the most inexpensive in the country. We deliver an excellent, efficient service, says Storebo.

The workers have voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike to back their demands for wages and respect. They rejected a mediators recommendation in late May.

Calgarys cost of living has skyrocketed. We cant keep providing Cadillac service without increased recognition and pay for our responsibilities. Our members are frustrated and have said enough is enough, says Storebo.

Tomorrows picket lines will mark the first time CUPE 1846 members have gone on strike. Picket lines will go up on Thursday, July 17 at:
7:00 a.m. @ 737 13 Avenue S. W., Calgary
and 12 :00 noon @ 210 200 4 Avenue S. (Lethbridge Centre Mall), Lethbridge

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For more information, contact:
Kim Storebo, CUPE 1846 President, (403) 862-1482 (c) or (403) 274-4579 (h)
Tom OLeary, CUPE National Representative, (403) 235-6955 (o) or (403) 863-7842 (c)