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CUPE 4552 27 employees of a social service agency in Ituna Saskatchewan are on strike for a first contract that includes seniority rights. Were not seeking a big wage increase or richer benefits, says local president Cyndi Salynuik. All we want is a collective agreement that treats us with fairness and respect.

The strike began June 3 over the issue of seniority.

The union wants years of service used in determining job promotions and who gets called in for extra work.

Its a common practice in many workplaces, and a good way for the employer to show it values the contribution of years of dedicated service, says Salynuik. But Deer Park Villa wants length of service to be the last thing they look at when determining who gets jobs.

The local membership voted 82 percent in favour of a strike at a May 3 meeting.

Deer Park Villa operates three group homes, an activity centre and a supported independent living program in Ituna. These provide residential, vocational and respite services for adults with mental and physical challenges. The employees unionized with CUPE a year and a half ago.