CUPE public library workers in Saskatoon held a rally today to let the library board know they are fed up with their employer’s refusal to make a significant wage offer and settle the protracted contract dispute.
The CUPE 2669 members have been without a new agreement since April 1, 2010.
“Almost one in every three Saskatoon library workers makes about 10 bucks or less an hour and receives few, if any benefits,” CUPE 2669 vice-president Dolores Douglas told the crowd. “Our members have been working far too long for far too little. It can’t continue.”
CUPE staff representative Rhonda Heisler criticized the library board for negotiating generous increases for library administrators and managers averaging 34 per cent, but insisting the 250 CUPE library workers accept concessions and cuts.
“We are fed up with their intransigence and greed,” she told the rally.
Heisler compared the board and out-of-scope staff to the characters in John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. “They are obsessed with keeping their own shiny pearl in the form of huge wage increases, but want the rest of you to accept sand.”
She said the employer’s bargaining position was a clear case or Pride and Prejudice, adding the CUPE bargaining committee was spent after hearing 50 Shades of Nay.
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich told the rally it was difficult to find another public library in western Canada that pays its staff as poorly as the Saskatoon Public Library Board. “In fact, I couldn’t fine one,” he said, noting the public libraries in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Prince Rupert and the Fraser Valley all pay a base wage rate that is 20 to 50 per cent higher.
“The City of Saskatoon has a booming economy. It’s time CUPE library workers received their fair share of the city’s wealth,” he said.
Hubich urged the Saskatoon Public Library to stop behaving like Wal-Mart and negotiate a decent wage and benefit package for its in-scope staff.