Essex County councillors have made it clear that they are no longer interested in listening to their constituents. With Essex Library workers on strike for over 100 days, the people of Essex County are standing in support with the workers in asking council to change its directive over a new sick plan and bring this long and unnecessary strike to an end. Council has responded by cancelling its regular meeting, citing a “light agenda,” even as residents were preparing to speak to the library strike at the meeting. Council is also trying to prevent the use of an automated voice message that contacts Essex County residents to inform them about the strike, giving them the option to press #1 to call their councillors.
“It just goes to show that the public is on our side and the council members and the library board are tired of hearing from their own constituents because they don’t like what they are hearing,” says Lori Wightman, unit chair for Local 2974 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 2974). “We find it hard to believe that 14 library branches, closed for over 100 days, doesn’t warrant a council meeting. Children, adults and seniors from across Essex County rely on our libraries and these residents know that councillors are the ones who can act to bring back this essential public resource.”
Based on 2015 statistics, CUPE 2974 has estimated the community impact of 100 days of closed libraries. In 100 days, the community lost 300 summer programs that would have been attended by over 4,000 children and adults, 270,060 items were not borrowed from libraries, 5,403 books were not recommended to readers by library staff, and 986 children missed out on story time.
“The people of Essex County have been tremendously supportive for the past 100 days, they know that these library workers love their jobs and want to be back at work,” says Wightman. “We cannot thank the community enough for supporting us and for pressuring council to change their directive to the library board. They will be disappointed, as we are, that council doesn’t want to hear from them, but that just means we need to continue to put pressure on them any way we can, and we encourage the people of Essex County to do the same.”
On Wednesday, October 5, members of CUPE 2974 mark hundred days on strike with a call for a change of the council’s sick plan directive to end the strike at the Amherstburg Branch of the Essex County Library, 232 Sandwich St. S., Amherstburg, Ontario at 5:30 p.m.
On Thursday, October 6, library workers in Essex will be joined on the picket line by striking workers from CUPE 4914, Peel Children’s Aid Society, who are in their third week off the job and wish to show solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Essex County. All supporters are welcome to join the picket from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Civic Centre in Essex (360 Fairview Ave. W.).
Supporters are also encouraged to continue to contact their councillors by calling them directly.
County Warden, Mayor, Town of Lakeshore
Deputy Warden, Mayor, Town of LaSalle
Library Board Member, Deputy Mayor, Town of Amherstburg
Ron McDermott, Mayor, Town of Amherstburg
Nelson Santos, Library Board Member, Mayor, Town of Kingsville
John Patterson, Mayor, Leamington
Joe Bachetti, Deputy Mayor, Town of Tecumseh