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Students at the Wadena School Division in Saskatchewan are starting off the year with a valuable lesson in management bullying skills.

Lesson #1: Scabs.

As soon as school started last Thursday, the lowest form of working life reared its ugly head, and turned out to replace the striking support staff.

But CUPE 3078 vice-president Sheila Bindig says the scabs could never replace the 80 workers who have devoted their careers to the division. Were an experienced workforce thats knowledgeable about our schools, and proud of the jobs we do, she says. The Wadena support staff includes library technicians, teaching assistants, caretakers, secretaries and maintenance workers.

The replacement workers are people that the children and often the teaching staff do not even know, says Bindig. Theyre not qualified and theyre not trained, and its insulting for us that theyre trying to do our jobs.

In some cases, Bindig says the CUPE 3078 members have worked decades to build strong working relationships with teachers and students in the division. The board is disregarding the close relationships that teaching assistants have with special needs kids, that secretaries have with parents, and that library technicians have with teachers and students. Experience is a very valuable asset, but the board obviously doesnt respect it.

Bindig adds that students safety is being compromised by the boards actions. Our caretakers and maintenance personnel know the schools safety issues better than anyone else, she says.

Perhaps worst of all, Bindig says that the boards actions are causing divisions within the small, tightly-knit community of Wadena, about 200 km east of Saskatoon. Its very hard for us to see our neighbours doing the jobs that we take pride in, says Bindig. The longer the strike lasts, the harder it will be to forgive the people who are trying to replace us.

Wadena support staff workers have been operating rotating strikes since last April, and a full-blown strike since last Monday, August 25. CUPE 3078 workers want a better wage and more full-time work. Theyre also fighting for dental and optical benefits, as well as full wages for holidays and inservice training.

If youre in Saskatchewan, please phone the Wadena school trustees and tell them to stop hiring scabs, and settle this strike!

  • Rose Olson (Chair) 338-3369
  • Kelly Berlinic (Vice-Chair) 383-2691
  • Ivy Bakken 323-4949
  • Terry Horan 327-4849
  • Lyle Sunderland 383-2665
  • Kathy Daviduk 338-2606
  • Jodi Johnson 327-4279
  • Jerry Klassen 325-4457
  • Melba Desjarlais 338-3838
  • Glenn Shore 324-2002