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London Front line London public library staff now in difficult contract negotiations are warning the community that the library administration is determined to push serious cuts to services, including the temporary closure of branches this summer.

Whats been clear from the beginning of negotiations is that the senior staff of this administration are prepared to make decisions that will have detrimental and serious impacts to services and programs used by our community, says Valerie Chapman, the president of Local 217 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Those administrative decisions include the possible closure this summer of all library branches for a period of a week and not filling vacant staff positions.

What that means for the community is that when kids need summer programs and adults do their summer holiday reading, the libraries may be closed. It also means there wont be enough staff to run programs, so there will no doubt be service and program cuts throughout the year, says Chapman whose local union represents 210 librarians, library assistants, technicians and maintenance and support staff at Londons 16 public library branches.

In addition to temporary closures, the administration is also attempting to negotiate a reduction in staff overtime rate for Sunday service, caps on benefits, and is offering a minimal wage increase that does not even cover the rate of inflation.

Chapman points out that library staff have worked with the administration to ensure the London community has access to quality programs, and in particular, to Sunday service.

Weve tried to help meet needs of the community. But we are now at the point where its clear the administration intends to solve the librarys financial problems off the backs of library staff and through service cuts to the community. And were saying enough is enough. Its time we make the public aware that senior administrative officers, like CAO Darryl Skidmore, are pushing for branch closures, service cuts and possible labour unrest, says Chapman.

Despite the best efforts of the union bargaining team, negotiations have reached an impasse and today (April 16) the union has filed for a no board report from the Ministry of Labour. A no board starts the clock countdown to a strike or lock out deadline, which is slated for 12:01 a.m. May 3.

For more information, please contact:

Valerie Chapman
President, CUPE Local 217
(519) 661-5898
(519) 432-5865

Fred Blake
CUPE National Representative
(519) 433-1753
(519) 868-4006

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774