“The picket line is strong and spirits are high,” reports CUPE member Susan Hill on the fourth day of a strike by 46 school support workers in the Biggar Public School Division.
The education workers began job action on February 4, in response to the employer’s continued attempts to remove seniority protection and re-write their entire collective agreement.
The teaching and library assistants, secretaries and caretakers work in five rural communities and three Hutterite colonies about 100 kilometres west of Saskatoon.
It’s the first time in their 30-year history that CUPE members in this local have been forced to take strike action to defend their collective agreement.
Susan, a teaching assistant and treasurer of CUPE Local 2128, says members are getting tremendous support from the community. “CEP workers in SaskTel brought us gift certificates, the railroad workers [UTU], CUPE bus drivers and SEIU members are providing ‘lunch on the line’, teachers in the community of Cando are providing coffee, our CUPE support workers in the separate school division are supplying donuts – it’s wonderful.”
Many members aren’t surprised by the support. “We’re a small town, but we’re a union town,” explains fellow CUPE member Bea Devenny.
CUPE members across the country are encouraged to send donations and letters of support to: CUPE Local 2128, c/o CUPE, 250 Cardinal Cres, Saskatoon S7L 6HB. email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or phone the local’s strike headquarters at 306-948-3860.