Striking Essex County Library workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are calling on delegates attending the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) in Windsor to ask AMO President Gary McNamara, who is also Mayor of the Town of Tecumseh, to practice what he will be preaching at the conference’s opening on Monday morning.

“It is ironic that the AMO president’s segment is being billed as ‘A Voice for You’ when, as the Mayor of Tecumseh, Gary McNamara has yet to respond to his community’s plea to end the library strike and open libraries for residents,” said Lori Wightman, unit chair for CUPE 2974. “Our supporters have sent hundreds of e-mails and phone calls to him and to Essex County Council, but they have not heard the community’s plea to resolve the strike that is depriving our children, adults and seniors of important library services.”

All 14 branches of the Essex County Library have been closed since June 25, after the county pushed workers out on strike over a phantom sick time issue that even management admits is not an issue at the libraries. Management is trying to force workers to accept a new sick leave plan that will not save any money and cost more to administer. This same sick time proposal was also pushed on the county’s paramedics, but was denied by a neutral third party in an arbitration decision last month.

“Our libraries have been closed for over 50 days and counting, and most mayors and councillors have ignored the voices of the community and have done nothing to resolve this strike,” continued Wightman. “How is it that as AMO president he can assemble Ontario’s Premier, along with the opposition party leaders and countless elected municipal leaders and managers, to talk about cooperation, but, as Mayor of Tecumseh and part of Essex County Council, he has not attempted to bring the council together to figure out how to get themselves out of the corner they painted themselves into?”

“We are asking AMO delegates to ask McNamara what he has done to end this strike and to stop targeting workers over an issue that the county is trying to change to meet their own agenda,” said Wightman. “Perhaps Essex County officials can learn from other municipal politicians from across Ontario who manage to reach negotiated settlements with their municipal workers while respecting their rights and protecting public services that residents rely on.”

For more information, please contact:

Lori Wightman
Spokesperson for CUPE 2974

Suanne Hawkins
CUPE National Representative

James Chai
CUPE Communications