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SYDNEY Cape Breton school board workers have voted overwhelmingly to accept an historic deal between the Nova Scotia government and their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 5050, ending a 20-day strike.

CUPE 5050 president Todd MacPherson said that the agreement, far superior to the Cape Breton- Victoria Regional School Boards last offer, was decades in the making.

This incredible victory is the fruit of 29 years of struggle by school board workers in this province, said MacPherson. Now, finally, no matter where you live, you will be paid the same and treated the same for doing the same job. Its the workers that make our schools run smoothly and help make our communities strong, and today this fact has been recognized.

The stunning agreement includes an unprecedented commitment to develop provincewide bargaining in the school board sector. Within 60 days, a joint committee with equal representation from the union and the Nova Scotia government will begin determining how to make this happen by April 1, 2007.

Further, the joint committees duty is to implement wage parity by developing standardized job descriptions, classifications and wage rates for CUPE school board workers across the province. Wage parity adjustments will be phased in over five years.

CUPE members will also keep their employers last offer, including economic adjustments of 2.9 per cent per year for three years, and a 1.5 per cent adjustment for all classifications. The deal will also raise the wage rates of casual employees, over a 5-year period, to a full 100 per cent of full-time workers, abolishing the past practice of paying casuals only 85 per cent of a full-timers wage.

Kathy MacLeod, national representative for CUPE 5050, was grateful for the hard work of the union membership.

It is such a pleasure to know that 3,000 CUPE members throughout Nova Scotia will benefit from this incredible agreement, said MacLeod. I am so proud of Local 5050 members and their determination to get wage parity in this province.

The agreement comes on the eve of CUPE Nova Scotias annual convention in Sydney next week, sure to be a party. The victory fuels the unions commitment to rebuilding strong communities through strong collective bargaining and quality public services for all.

For information:
Kathy MacLeod, CUPE National Rep., (902) 578-3304 (cell)
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, (613) 878 1431 (cell)
John McCracken, CUPE Atlantic Communications, (902) 455-4180