Instead of returning to the bargaining table with an offer that would address underlying concerns at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library, the town on Friday chose to pursue a lengthy legal proceeding that will not resolve the issues, says CUPE 905, which represents library workers.

“The Mayor and Council will do anything to avoid giving these workers a fair raise,” said Katherine Grzejszczak, president of CUPE 905. “If they truly wanted the library open, they could easily end this strike today. But instead of providing fair wages, they’re spending yet more library funding on a lengthy legal fight.”

The Town’s application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board will take up to 30 business days to get a decision – time and money that could be better spent at the bargaining table to ensure the library is open before school starts, said Grzejszczak.

Workers at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library voted overwhelmingly to join CUPE in September 2021. They have been on strike since negotiations ended on July 21, 2023. Half of the Library staff have left in the past two years due to poor working conditions.

The main outstanding issue is wages, with library workers asking for a $1.35/hr increase in each of the last two years of their contract, after already agreeing to a 2% for 2022. Negotiations resumed briefly in August, ending when the town rejected CUPE’s offer.

“The best way to resolve disputes is through free collective bargaining, and CUPE remains committed to that process,” said Grzejszczak. “We need solutions that address the long-standing issue of respect for workers during record high inflation, not arbitration that would force a deal without meaningful resolution to the problems that exist at the Library.”

CUPE remains ready to return to the table and has already withdrawn many proposals in an effort to reach an agreement – a degree of movement that has not been matched by the town, Grzejszczak notes.