As the Essex County Library Board prepares to meet for the first time since the library strike began on June 25, striking library workers are urging the board to act in the best interest of library patrons from the community instead of blindly following the unjustifiable sick time change ‘directive’ from Essex County Council.

“The library board is finally meeting today on day 54 of the strike,” said Lori Wightman, spokesperson for CUPE 2974. “I guess one should feel hopeful that the board is finally realizing they should meet and do something to resolve this strike – but we also know this is the same board that is blindly following a directive from Essex County without considering the human cost of depriving library services in our community all summer long.”

All 14 branches of Essex County libraries have been closed since late June when the library board pushed 58 library workers out on the picket line over a phantom issue that library management admits is not a problem at the libraries. Since the strike began, the library board has made no attempt to move off their sick time position that provoked the strike.

“Library management admitted that the sick time change was a ‘directive’ from Essex County and their position was ‘carved in stone’,” continued Wightman. “We are calling on the library board to act like a proper board and fulfill their mandate – which is to promote and deliver library services in Essex County and not to shut libraries down to fulfill the county’s agenda.”

“Management revealed that the new sick plan will not save any money and, in fact, will cost more to administer – so why did they shut down libraries over an issue that does not help anyone,” asks Wightman. “Now that they are finally meeting, we want to remind the board of their duty to represent the interests of the library patrons from our community and stand up to the county and tell them the new sick time plan does not make any sense. The board needs to move off their untenable sick time proposal so both parties can bargain meaningfully and resolve this strike so our libraries can be opened again.”

For more information, please contact:                                                         

Lori Wightman, Spokesperson for CUPE 2974, 519-890-1932

Suanne Hawkins, CUPE National Representative, 226-347-0242

James Chai, CUPE Communications, 416-458-3983