CLAC held a rally at K.R. Barkman Park to encourage EAs in Steinbach on Wednesday at noon.
There were several speakers at the rally from CLAC members to EAs themselves.
Heidi Martens with CLAC says it’s amazing to see all of the EAs come together to fight for better wages.
“It is so encouraging to see the OG's who've been here for 20 to 30 and the folks that are brand new, we are all here together.”
She says EAs have been underpaid for a long time, and it is finally time to stand up.
“we had three or four of the original folks who unionized this group 20 years ago, and they said this has been a long time coming. This group has put up with so much and you've taken it and now you've said enough is enough and you are using your outside voices and people are listening.”
CLAC Executive Director Wayne Prins tells EAs they are not only fighting for themselves, but for each other.
“You aren’t just striking for you, you're striking for the community, you're pushing up against an edge that the community needs to push past, for you and for lots of other folks too.”
Prins says the strike itself is the hardest part of the negotiating process.
“It's a lot of work to get a strike going, sure, but it's actually harder to stop a strike. Now we got to get a deal, now we got to convince your employer, your community's got to be a part of that to change their mind.”
He says that CLAC as a union doesn’t strike often, but this strike was needed.
“Generally we (CLAC) are a friendly and cooperative bunch. We're good people. But there comes the time to say enough, and there's a time to take action, and that is where we are.”
He says CLAC is proud to stand behind EAs and push for what is rightfully theirs.
“I have been with CLAC for 20 years, and I have never been more inspired by a group of members who come together demanding something that is so righteous. We absolutely demand respect, we absolutely demand fairness, and that is not what you're getting at this point. And so we stand with you.”
Prins notes he is extremely impressed with the support EAs are receiving from the community.
“I had heard the honking in the video there earlier in the week, it is something else to be there, to hear the big trucks.”
He says everyone is behind the EAs and supporting them through this hard time.
“The entire community stands behind you, the students stand behind you, the teachers stand behind you. And I can tell you on behalf of 67,000 CLAC members from across the country, we all stand behind you.”
Prins says striking may not be ideal, but it is necessary.
“These are not easy days and I know all of you would prefer to be in the classrooms, but this is the fight that we have to get through.”
In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, SteinbachOnline encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the SteinbachOnline app.