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It was a long and often bitter struggle but CUPE school support workers with the Wadena School Division in Saskatchewan are back at work with a three-year agreement and no concessions.

We are very happy that after three long years we finally achieved a fair settlement, says CUPE 3078 president Donna Zarowny. And we are really looking forward to being back at school and working again with the students and teachers.

The settlement was reached with the assistance of a provincial conciliator after the labour board ordered the employer back to the negotiating table December 22 and to cease and desist from bargaining in bad faith.

The three-year agreement, retroactive to January 1, 2001, includes a 13 per cent wage increase, a cost-shared extended health plan and improved sick leave benefits.

School support workers spent more than 130 days on the picket line to force the employer to drop its demands for concessions and negotiate a fair agreement.

It was a long time to spend on the line, but we had tremendous support from our families, our communities and the labour movement and that made all the difference, Zarowny says.