Bargaining talks between Essex County Library and its workers ended this evening when management refused to move off their position over a phantom issue that is being pushed by the Essex County Council, the funder of the library, charges the Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing the 58 frontline library staff. This sets the stage for shutting down all 14 library branches on Saturday, June 25.

“It is impossible to negotiate a fair contract when terms are being dictated by the county over a phantom issue – sick time is not an issue at the libraries, even management acknowledged this,” said Lori Wightman, unit chair for CUPE 2974. “We have been prepared to bargain, but management is not willing to budge because the bargaining mandate is apparently coming from Council – so if our community is without library services, then council needs to explain why they are looking for a problem that does not exist in our workplace.”

“We are urging our library patrons to contact their councilor, their mayors and the county warden, and ask them why they are targeting library workers and are willing to shut down libraries over an issue that does not exist at the libraries,” continued Wightman. “We don’t understand why the county is forcing a shutdown to try and change our sick time policy when it is not an issue and our members are happy to come to work and serve our community – we do that every day.”

“It is unfortunate that our libraries are on the verge of being shut down by the county especially when popular summer programs like the Summer Reading Club, Family Story Times and Book Clubs are going to be starting very soon,” concluded Wightman. “There is still time before Saturday’s shutdown deadline, and we are encouraging council to show true leadership and pave the way for both parties to return to the bargaining table to reach a fair contract that will allow libraries to remain open.”

For more information, please contact:

Lori Wightman
Spokesperson for CUPE 2974

Suanne Hawkins
CUPE National Representative

James Chai
CUPE Communications