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Saskatoon Civic Dispute

One of the longest and largest public sector strike/lockouts in Saskatchewan history began in mid-August 1994 in Saskatoon. After more than two years of bargaining, members of four locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), transit workers (ATU), electrical workers (IBEW) and the police union were unable to agree on a new contract. The police went on strike, some CUPE members walked out in sympathy, and the city began lockouts. The police reached a settlement, but it would be ten weeks before the 2,300 other workers agreed to a new contract.

The solidarity shown by members of the six unions was almost unprecedented: during the long dispute, not one person crossed the picket lines, even though many faced severe financial strains. Also unusual was the high degree of public support for the strikers, including over $100,000 in donations from across Canada. An agreement was finally reached on October 18. There was no wage increase for 1992 or 1993, but a total of 6% increase in wages and benefits for 1994, a dental plan, other health benefits, improved vacations, and assurances to transit workers that their jobs would not be contracted out.

Clare Powell

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