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Wadena: The union negotiating committee representing education workers in the Wadena School Division is ready to return to the bargaining table with a revised offer, which it says should be the basis for a settlement.

The 80 education workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, began rotating job action on April 9 to support their request for a significant wage increase and convince the employer to drop its demands for reduced seniority rights and other concessions. So far, they have spent a total of 10 days on the picket line.

Although the two sides have met with the conciliator three times since the strike began, the employers last offer contained no significant improvements.

In an effort to reach a settlement before the summer, the union negotiating committee has spent the last two weeks working on a comprehensive counter-offer.

Our offer balances the employers concerns about qualifications with our union members need for fairness, says CUPE Local 3078 President Donna Zarowny, adding its a fair settlement to the protracted contract dispute.

We are ready to return to the table and negotiate morning, noon and night, if thats what it takes to reach a settlement, she says. We hope the employer will show the same resolve and remain at the table until a settlement is reached.

The union has contacted the department of labours conciliation branch to request the two sides get back to the table as quickly as possible. The Wadena School Division includes schools in Kelvington, Rose Valley, Quill Lake, Archerwill, Wadena, Lintlaw and the Quill Lake Hutterite Colony.

The support workers are employed as teacher assistants, secretaries, caretakers, library assistants and other positions in the school division. Their collective agreement expired on December 31, 2000.

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For more information, contact:
CUPE Staff Rep Sharon Lockwood at 382-8262 or Donna Zarowny at 338-2091 after 3:30 p.m.