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VANCOUVER—Unionized staff at Collingwood Neighbourhood House in Vancouver, ratified a four-year collective agreement last night, which takes the first steps on the long road to regaining the wage levels and benefits lost as a result of severe funding cuts imposed during the first provincial Liberal mandate (2001 – 2004). The substantial yes vote was based on a high turnout of members for the vote.

Collingwood Neighbourhood House, like most neighbourhood houses and community centres depends on fees for services as well as municipal, provincial and federal funding to run a significant number of community-based programs.

The staff, members of CUPE Local 1936 including child care workers, ESL teachers, building service, recreation, settlement outreach workers and single mother’s assistants, will see their wages raised by 4.5 per cent over four years with the lowest paid workers also receiving an immediate $2.53 wage lift. Full-time workers will be receiving up to $1250.00 in retroactive pay.

Benefits, including sick leave and working conditions, will also be part of the workers’ recovered losses according to Michael Lanier, the local’s president.

Some wages and benefits have been regained, but not nearly all they lost two years ago,” says Lanier. “These workers have been hurting to such an extent that management has made it clear that the high staff turnover and difficulty replacing the trained workers is directly related to the poor wages and benefits that staff can expect.”

The Board of Collingwood Neighbourhood House ratified the collective agreement yesterday.

Hopefully,” says Lanier, “this contract is the beginning of a revived trend to show respect and consideration to working people who are providing skilled and desperately needed services essential to keeping our communities strong and healthy.

Visit Collingwood Neighbourhood House online at http://www.cnh.bc.ca/ or visit the CUPE local 1936 website at www3.telus.net/public/cupe1936

Michael Lanier president, CUPE Local 1936 at (604)522-8445.