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WINNIPEG – Unionized support workers in the Sunrise School Division will vote on Saturday, on whether or not they should strike to get a new collective agreement.

The members of CUPE Local 1618 who provide custodial, maintenance, bus driving and teaching assistance for the Division have been in bargaining for almost two years. They have not had a contract since January of 2004.

When I tell people what we have been going through, they just can’t believe it. We are getting nowhere with the Board, and we have to take firm action if we are ever going to settle a new contract,” said Anne Marie Roy, President of Local 1618.

I think our expectations are reasonable and completely in line with what other support workers around the province are getting.”

Union representatives, School Division negotiators and a government appointed conciliator have been meeting for the last six months, with little progress on major issues. Currently the main block in negotiations is the lack of agreement on wage increases.

The Employer’s wage offer is way below what agreements in other school divisions have negotiated in the last year. They basically want us to roll back our wages. That’s not fair or reasonable.”

The contract the members approved in 2002 was for one year (one and a half for some members) and it harmonized contracts that were merged through the amalgamation of the Transcona and Agassiz School Divisions. This round of bargaining was to complete the harmonization created by mergers.

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The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than a half-million women and men. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members working in health care, school divisions, municipal services, social services, childcare centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services. CUPE represents workers in over 20 school divisions across Manitoba.

For information, contact:

Steve Edwards
CUPE National Representative
Phone: (204) 942-0343

Dennis Lewycky
CUPE Communications
Cell: 333-5065