After three weeks of depriving Essex County residents of essential library services, management representatives from Essex County Library returned to the bargaining table not budging on the core strike issue and announced they had not been given authority to bargain, ending mediation talks this afternoon and prolonging an unnecessary strike.

“Not only are we striking over a phantom issue, we are now bargaining with a phantom board with no authority, no accountability and certainly no urgency to end this unnecessary strike,” said Lori Wightman, unit chair for CUPE 2974. “If the employer has no authority to bargain then who does and who is driving this agenda over a sick time issue that is not a problem at the libraries?”

“We were ready to bargain all day and all weekend to end this strike but there was no point sitting there bargaining with ourselves when the other side is not budging on the core issue and has no authority to bargain,” continued Wightman. “If the Library Chair and the Chief Librarian have no authority to bargain, then why were they there and the bigger question is, who is calling the shots, and why weren’t they at the bargaining table to end this strike?”

The 58 frontline library staff have been on strike since June 25. Tomorrow will mark the fourth week of the strike.