The Kingston-Frontenac Library board’s desire to roll back working conditions threatens the quality of library services for the community, says the union representing librarians, library assistants, library technicians, maintenance staff and IT Specialists, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 2202.
Talks broke down earlier this week when the employer filed for a “no board”, which sets in motion the countdown for a strike. The union hasn’t received official notification; the countdown clock to a strike or lock-out will begin when it does. The union regrets that the employer is gunning for confrontation over negotiations.
“We want to get back to the bargaining table and resolve this,” says CUPE 2202 Vice-President Sherry Van Luven, a librarian assistant at the Isabel Turner Branch. “There is no reason for the employer’s aggressive pursuit of rollbacks and concessions. After all, they just gave themselves a raise of 3.5 per cent, while limiting ours to between 2.5, 2.5 and 2.25 per cent.”
Van Luven said that one of the biggest sticking points was an employer concession to roll back the shift premium for working on Sundays. For years, the premium has been double-time for workers keeping libraries open on Sunday, and now the employer wants to chop it down to time-and-a-half. This move, along with the minimal wage increase, prompted the 90 library workers to vote 98 per cent for a strike.
“Rolling back our wages won’t build a strong library service,” says Van Luven. “We have a better idea. Come back to the bargaining table and settle a reasonable collective agreement with the people who make Kingston-Frontenac libraries work.”
The Kingston-Frontenac Library Board’s pushing for a strike comes just as Kingston is getting ready to “rock for public services” with a free CUPE Ontario-sponsored concert tonight with April Wine at the Memorial Centre. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. and will raise awareness of the importance of public services in the community, including health, municipal and library services.
For more information, please contact:
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, 613-878-1431
Barbara Williams, CUPE National Representative, 613-542-2069
Sherry Van Luven, Vice-President, CUPE 2202, 613-583-5831 (available after 6:00 p.m.)