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NEEPAWA, MANITOBA CUPE members who work at Touchwood Park group home for mentally challenged adults in Neepawa voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action last night.

This dispute is about wages, CUPE representative Doug McLaughlin said. These workers want what every other collective agreement has - a proper wage schedule that lays out job classifications and rates of pay. They want an end to arbitrary treatment by their employer.

McLaughlin said despite pay rates that are little more than the minimum wage, contract talks with Touchwood Park have stalled. The workers are asking for a 4 per cent increase with adjustments over three years and formalized pay scales with defined wage rates for job classifications. Touchwood Park has bluntly refused to include a wage schedule in the contract, though it is basic to collective agreements.

We perform very demanding work and the staff turnover for our jobs is high, CUPE Local 4132 spokesperson Betty Walker said. We deserve decent pay and a standard set of wage rates like everyone else.

Most of the thirty-nine CUPE members employed at Touchwood Park work part time. Though wage rates range from $6.00 to $10.13 an hour, the majority are paid at the lower level. Eighty per cent of the workers are women, and wage disparities are common.

Negotiations have dragged on for more than a year while the contract expired October 8, 1999.

In Manitoba, CUPE represents 23,000 members who work in health care, education, municipalities, social services, utilities, libraries, and emergency services.

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For more information, please contact:

Doug McLaughlin, CUPE staff representative

Brandon Cell: (204) 724-3619


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