Following remarks by Essex County Library Chair that bargaining will only resume with the striking Essex County Library workers after Essex County wraps up its bargaining with the County’s own employees, CUPE 2974 is reminding the Chair that the striking library workers are employed by the Essex Library Board, not the county, and the library has a workforce made up of mostly part-time workers. CUPE has made ten moves since the strike began on June 25 to break the impasse, but the Library Board has not moved on the core issues, even stating recently they would await the outcome of bargaining with a different employer, and different set of employees.
“The library chair is conveniently forgetting that we are employees of the Essex Library Board, we are not employed by Essex County,” said Lori Wightman, spokesperson for CUPE 2974. “We’ve been clear all along that this strike was caused by the library board because they are following a directive from County Council demanding an unnecessary sick time change that the county wanted for their own employees – even the library board and management admits to this.”
“While Essex County may have concluded their bargaining with their own employees – the library strike is now in its fifth month and the only way this strike will end is if the board, our employer, returns to the bargaining table with an open mind to bargain with us,” continued Wightman. “The library board and the Mayors who triggered this strike need to listen to the community – residents want their libraries opened again. They closed the libraries and shut down residents wanting to speak at the library board meeting, but there will be a price to pay if these politicians continue to disrespect their own constituents.”
“The board wants to starve their own employees into submission,” concluded Wightman. “But we are even more fired up because we are determined to be treated fairly and with respect. What the board and the County are doing just shows, to us and the rest of the community, their lack of respect for democracy and the public services that they were elected to oversee and deliver.”
Since the strike began, over 4,600 residents petitioned Essex County, almost 1,000 e-mails were sent out to Mayors and Councillors, more than 4,000 called their elected representatives and thousands of ‘Open our Libraries’ signs are on front lawns across the county – all wanting to show support for the strikers and telling their Mayors and Councillors to move off their sick time demands, so this strike can be resolved.