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WADENA, Sask Striking CUPE members in the Wadena School Division are celebrating on the picket line today, after learning the labour relations board has ordered the school division to reinstate teacher associates it laid-off in June.

The labour relations board ruled yesterday the school division was guilty of trying to coerce or intimidate the striking school support workers, when it dismissed all seven-teacher associates who were working in the Quill Lake elementary school. The labour board found the school division had violated three sections under the Trade Union Act.

This is terrific news, says Sheila Bindig, CUPE 3078 vice-president. It confirms what we have known all along the Wadena School Division is not playing by the rules. As a result of the labour board decision, it now must pay the price for its actions.

The seven teacher associates in Quill Lake, members of CUPE local 3078, are among the 80 school support workers who began rotating strike action against the school division on April 9.

On May 22, they had just returned to the classroom after spending five days on the picket line, when the employer informed them they would be laid-off at the end of the school year. They also were told they would not be recalled in the fall, as was the normal practice.

The union charged the employer with three unfair labour practices, including bargaining in bad faith.

In its October 7 decision, the labour relations board agreed on all counts. It ordered the school division to reinstate the employees and reimburse them for monetary loss suffered.

CUPE education workers, who moved to a full-scale strike on August 25, have spent a total of 55 days on the picket line. The strike affects schools in Quill Lake, Quill Lake Hutterite Colony, Wadena, Archerwill, Kelvington, Lintlaw and Rose Valley.

The union has filed two other unfair labour practice charges against the board for refusing to bargain in good faith. Those hearings are pending.

It is our hope the division board learns a lesson from this decision and returns to the bargaining table prepared to negotiate a fair settlement, says Bindig.

The school divisions negotiating team is headed by Bill Wells of the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association. Wells also led negotiations last year in the Biggar School Division, where school support workers walked the picket line for six months to achieve a fair agreement.

Send messages of support to:

CUPE Local 3078 President Donna Zarowny

Fax: 306-338-3907

Email: sheilabindig@canoemail.com

Phone number at strike headquarters: 306-338-3121

Cell phone on the line: Sheila Bindig at 306-338-7220