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WINNIPEG The custodial and maintenance staff, and bus drivers in the Seven Oaks School Division have a new contract that the union says is giving everyone a healthy increase in important benefits.

The 170 members of CUPE 731 voted to accept an offer that was made last week. The settlement includes wage increases of 3 to 14% a year for the next three years, depending on the work done. They also increased their sick leave to a maximum of 120 days per year.

According to Darlene Parsons, President of CUPE 731, the new collective agreement is very significant because it is a break-through in providing benefits to support workers that, up to now, only the teachers could receive.

Important to the members, were the top up to the maternity/parental and adoptive leave to 90% of gross income, which will include the Employment Insurance benefit, she said. This is the first for non-teaching staff in the province.

They will also get a health care benefit package into which the Division agreed to put in up to $50.00 per member each month, she added.

Their last contract expired at the end of 2003.

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The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canadas largest union representing more than a half-million women and men. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members working in health care facilities, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services. About 4,000 of these members work in 25 of Manitobas school divisions.

For information, contact:
Darlene Parsons, President of CUPE Local 731 at 204 781-4663
Dennis Lewycky, CUPE Communications at 204 942-0343 / cell. 204 223-6805