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Within a day of picket lines going up outside the offices of the Greater Essex County District School Board, members of CUPE 27 had a settlement.

Strike action began on April 9 after contract negotiations broke off following three days of marathon bargaining. The 260 custodians and maintenance workers were pressing for improvements to wages, benefits and job security, including stronger protection against contracting out.

But one of the most contentious items was the employers’ insistence that Local 27 give up contract language protecting a worker’s right to honour another worker’s picket line without discipline.

The local has been coordinating its bargaining with the 200 members of CUPE 1348, representing clerical staff and education workers. The board has been pressing to remove the same language from Local 1348’s contract.

But Local 27 was determined that they wouldn’t be divided from their sister local. Determined to stand shoulder to shoulder should Local 1348 ever be forced to strike, they walked to defend their contract language. And won!