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CUPE members who work as teaching and non-teaching staff at Holy Cross School in Winnipeg have overwhelmingly voted to accept their first contract with a 9 per cent wage increase over two years. The Catholic school is the first private school to be organized into a CUPE local in the province.

Under the agreement, four instructional assistants, who had been earning just $9.27 an hour, will see their wages jump by more than 25 per cent. Wages for the four workers are now $10.85 an hour, retroactive to last August, with a further increase to $11.65 in September 1.

Weve been waiting for this for a long time. Its long overdue, said CUPE Local 4434 president Elaine Pankiw. Weve seen many injustices within the Catholic school system and we wanted to unionize. Were extremely happy.

Eighty per cent of the more than two dozen Holy Cross School workers are women.

The private school employees decided to form a union and joined CUPE last April. The new deal is the first contract for the new CUPE local which represents all staff at Holy Cross, both teaching and non-teaching workers from the vice-principal to the schools custodian.