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Members of CUPE Local 1287 have ratified a first contract, after spending more than ten weeks on strike.

The 16 workers employed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Niagara South Branch, have been trying to negotiate a first contract since June 1998.

The agency accepted the unions final offer and return to work protocol. Outstanding issues of sick leave and vacation will go to voluntary arbitration.

Before this group organized, seven members were considered permanent and received benefits and vacation provisions, including sick leave accumulation at 1.5 days per month.

The CMHA took the position that it could not afford to supply benefits to the 13 eligible members and allow for sick leave accumulation at that rate. They also demanded a one-week rollback on the vacation given to the seven permanent employees.