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CUPE 5252 members, education support workers, gave their bargaining team a standing ovation before voting to ratify a four-year agreement with Prairie Valley School Division in Saskatchewan. The local had been trying to gain wage parity for years, and that goal was accomplished in this round of bargaining.

CUPE 5252 President Laurel Rugland thanked members for the support shown during bargaining. “Wage parity was won thanks to everything members did to win this agreement. From school reps who kept lines of communication open; to the ten brave members who told their story on video – you really are stars; to all who wore buttons, sent letters to the editor, collected postcard signatures; and those who had the courage to vote to go on strike if needed — this victory is yours.”

Prior to bargaining, CUPE 5252 held meetings with members to help identify their most important issue – wage parity. Many members were being paid two dollars less per hour than non-unionized workers in the school division for doing the exact same job. Social workers were being paid 37 per cent less than those who were not unionized. Wage parity will be achieved by getting even increments each year of the agreement until beginning of September 2014, when wage parity will be achieved.

Danielle LeBlanc, a social worker at Grenfell Community School and Dr. Isman School in Wolseley was one of the ten members who told their story on YouTube. She said that she got all positive feedback on the video, from other social workers and from people in the community. Danielle has a message for others fighting injustice: “Fight for your rights, because you can win in the end.” Danielle said that she is proud to belong to a strong union.

Karen Quibell, an administrative assistant from Broadview School has been involved on many bargaining teams over the years, but took a break this year. Quibell says that she has never seen so many members come out to meetings and she praised the work of the bargaining committee. “They were awesome. They did a wonderful job for the members.” Quibell says that members wanted parity for a long time, that they wanted to be treated fairly. “We’ve come a long way,” she said.

CUPE 5252 members were actively engaged in the bargaining campaign from the very beginning when they let their bargaining committee know what they wanted to accomplish this round. They supported their committee in a multitude of ways and gave their committee a strong strike mandate when it was needed.  

This Local has shown the employer that you have strength and solidarity and that you will not be treated as second class citizens, “ said CUPE National Representative Lori Sutherland. “You are a strong local.”