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MOOSE JAW: Police communication and clerical employees in Moose Jaw represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees voted 100 percent in support of taking job action at a union meeting held yesterday.

Contract negotiations between the Board of Police Commissioners and CUPE Local 9 broke off in December. Twenty of the 21 workers represented by the union took part in the vote.

“This overwhelming strike mandate is a clear expression of the membership’s frustration with management, which has refused to make any significant changes to its bargaining position,” said union spokesperson Malcolm Matheson.

The civilian police employees are seeking wage parity with their counterparts in Prince Albert, who receive 12 to 33 percent more in wages. Moose Jaw’s mayor, city councillors and police chief have all received parity with their counterparts in Prince Albert. Moose Jaw city council received a raise of 39 percent to achieve parity with Prince Albert city council.

The workers, who are predominantly women, include communication officers, forensic technicians, administrative assistants, information system and victim services co-ordinators, court services and criminal investigation section (CIS) assistants.

Matheson said the CUPE staff perform a variety of tasks, such as handling emergency calls, searching female prisoners for weapons, needles and drugs, assisting with fingerprinting and maintaining criminal record information.

“These employees are the public’s link to the police. They contribute greatly to the security of the community, often working under stressful conditions, but they remain undervalued and underpaid.”

Matheson said he hopes the strike mandate prompts management to reconsider its position at the bargaining table. “Our members aren’t looking for a strike, but they are prepared to walk the picket line if that’s what it takes to get some respect.”

Bargaining between the union and the Board of Police Commissioners began last May. The union’s last contract expired on December 31, 2000.

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For more information contact staff representative Malcolm Matheson at 525-5874.