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Wadena: School support workers in the Wadena School Division remained on the picket line today, continuing the job action they began at 9 a.m. on Friday.

The 80 education workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, are dismayed by the school division boards refusal to negotiate a fair collective agreement with its support staff.

It is the first time in the union locals history that members have been forced to take job action to achieve an agreement. And its only the second time in more than 25 years that CUPE education workers in the province have walked a picket line. The first strike occurred one year ago in Biggar.

The CUPE members are employed as teacher assistants, secretaries, caretakers, library assistants and other positions in the school division. They have been trying to achieve a new agreement with the school board for more than two years. The last contract expired on December 31, 2000.

The job action affects schools in Kelvington, Rose Valley, Quill Lake, Archerwill, Wadena, Lintlaw and the Lakeside Hutterite Colony.

CUPE education workers are seeking a significant wage increase and benefit improvements. They also are refusing to accept any of the school divisions demands for concessions, including reduced seniority rights.

Support workers in the Wadena School Division are among the poorest paid of any unionized education workers in the province. The starting wage for a teaching assistant in the Wadena School Division, for example, is only $8.73 an hour, 16% less than the provincial average of unionized.

In this bargaining round, we intend to catch-up to other unionized support staff in the province, not fall further behind, says CUPE local president Donna Zarowny.

She urged board members to return to the negotiating table and conclude a fair agreement with its support staff.

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For more information call:
CUPE Communications Rep Beth Smillie at 539-8597
or Donna Zarowny at 338-713