An arbitrator’s decision provides significant raises to some workers at the Bradford-West Gwillimbury Public Library (BWGPL), but leaves many issues unresolved, says CUPE 905, which represents the library workers.

“We appreciate that the arbitration board has recognized the substantial wage gaps that have existed at BWGPL. At the same time, they acknowledge that further adjustments are necessary – a fact that the employer failed to address during negotiations,” said Wendy Zwaal, CUPE 905 Unit Chair for the library.

The arbitration award, which was released late last week, came after the Ontario Labour Relations Board took the unusual step of ordering an end to the 71-day strike in October 2023. CUPE has appealed that decision.

“BWGPL workers will continue in our commitment to provide the best library service possible to our community with skill and compassion. We truly hope that we will be able to work, grow and thrive in a healthy workplace,” said Zwaal. “However, whether this can be realized will depend greatly on the choices made by the town, the library board and by our CEO.”

The arbitration award requires raises of 3 percent per year for three years, plus wage adjustments ranging from $0.21 to $3.57 per hour for four groups of workers.

The award recognizes that there are large gaps between pay rates in BWGPL and comparable library systems, and that “awarded adjustments will by no means eliminate this gap.”

“We are disappointed that a fair settlement could not be negotiated and that a decision was imposed on the workers, depriving them of their right to vote on their first collective agreement,” said Katherine Grzejszczak, president of CUPE 905. “Arbitration was an expensive process for the employer to go through to find out that their lowest paid workers were – and will continue to be – underpaid. Lack of respect and fair wages were issues that led to the strike and are still unresolved. This sets the stage for the next round of bargaining, which will come in advance of the 2026 municipal elections.”