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WADENA Wadena School Divisions striking support workers say the board of trustees is showing contempt for their work, by hiring other people to do their jobs.

The board obviously doesnt respect the value of having an experienced workforce thats knowledgeable about its schools, says Sheila Bindig, vice-president of CUPE 3078, which represents the 80 workers, including library technicians, teaching assistants, caretakers, secretaries and maintenance workers.

Classes in the division started last Thursday, and the board has been hiring people to do the support staffs jobs ever since. These are people that the children and often the teaching staff do not even know, says Bindig. Theyre not qualified and theyre not trained, and its insulting for us that theyre trying to do our jobs.

Bindig says she and the other support staff have developed good working relationships with teachers and students, in some cases over a period of decades. The board is disregarding the close relationships that teaching assistants have with special needs kids, that secretaries have with parents, and that library technicians have with teachers and students. Experience is a very valuable asset, but the board obviously doesnt respect it.

Bindig adds that students safety is being compromised by the boards actions. Our caretakers and maintenance personnel know the schools safety issues better than anyone else, she says.

Perhaps worst of all, Bindig says that the boards actions are causing divisions within the Wadena community. Its very hard for us to see our neighbours doing the jobs that we take pride in, says Bindig. The longer the strike lasts, the harder it will be to forgive the people who are trying to replace us.

Wadena support staff workers have been operating rotating strikes since last April, and a full-blown strike since last Monday, August 25. CUPE 3078 workers want a better wage and more full-time work. Theyre also fighting for dental and optical benefits, as well as full wages for holidays and inservice training.

For more information:
Donna Zarowny President, CUPE 3078
(306) 338-2091 (h)

Sheila Bindig Vice-President, CUPE 3078
(306) 338-7220 (c)