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Hundreds of members of CUPE Local 2424 flooded the courtyard in Carleton University in Ottawa to show solidarity with their bargaining unit. The local union is entering a round of mediation with the university this Friday and Saturday. Talks for a fair contract broke down last month.

CUPE Local 2424 represents over 650 administrative, technical and support staff at the university. CUPE Local 2424 president Karen Martin reminded the crowd in the rally that a strike could happen next Monday morning if the university fails to move towards a settlement.

To show our resolve to get a fair contract, were prepared to strike if necessary. We keep Carleton working everyday in so many ways. We want a deal so that the university can continue to run. But Carleton has to do their part.

The university reduced pension plan benefits in addition to more than $3 million in savings due to reduced contributions over the last three years. Martin vowed to address issues including pension benefits, health and safety, right to take vacation, excessive overtime, a new classification system and simply - respect.

At a joint labour management meeting, a senior management said to us that any monkey could do their jobs. We want respect. This is an important fight for our future as for our past, said Martin. Weve got the backing of Canadas largest union. With CUPEs support, we will succeed.

Paul Moist, CUPEs National President, cheered local members with commitment of resources the local needs at the bargaining table.

We need to pour our support behind our bargaining representatives by sending a strong message: the management cant treat your representatives with disrespect by insulting the work you do, says Moist. We want a fair contract. If its good enough for the faculty of Carleton to have pension benefits in their retirement years, its good enough for the support staff.

After his speech, Moist and Martin led two hundred CUPE members to the presidents office. Under tremendous pressure, the president of Carleton came out and redressed what was said wrong. You are the heart of Carleton, he said.