On day 75 of the ongoing Essex County Library strike, library workers from CUPE 2974 will present a petition with more than 3,000 signatures to Essex County Council at tonight’s council meeting in Essex. The petition, signed by concerned residents and library patrons from the community, urges their elected councillors and mayors to “reverse their sick time position directive to the Essex Library Board that led to the strike and shutdown of the county’s libraries, and direct the Essex County Library Board to return to the bargaining table to negotiate meaningfully to resolve the strike and open our libraries for our residents.”

“Our libraries were forced to shut down just as schools were closing for the summer and, now, the schools are open again, but our libraries remain closed for our community,” said Lori Wightman, spokesperson for CUPE 2974. “We have pages and pages of signed petitions demanding that elected officials step up and resolve this strike.”

Group of protesters with pink flags under an awning

“All through summer, concerned residents have called, e-mailed, and have now petitioned the politicians who are supposed to represent them, to have them act in the best interest of the community, but to no avail,” continued Wightman. “We are here again at the council meeting to remind them that their constituents want them to resolve this strike that they essentially initiated – Essex County directed the library board to force us to accept a sick time policy that the county is trying to change for other county staff.”

“While the county is not our employer, they have been acting like a quasi-employer providing directives to the library board, and the county’s top managers have been attending closed door meetings with the library board while shutting out the public,” said Wightman. “So Essex County must be held accountable for what they’ve started and they need to act in the best interest of the community by reversing their directive, and direct the library board to negotiate and not dictate.”

All 14 branches of Essex County libraries have been closed since June 25 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.

For more information, please contact:

Lori Wightman
Spokesperson for CUPE 2974

Suanne Hawkins
CUPE National Representative

James Chai
CUPE Communications

Photo credit https://twitter.com/11c940283a1046a/status/772845324721385472