Regina Public Library workers, members of CUPE 1594, read poetry and verbally hurled book titles at a March 27 rally held to pressure the employer to conclude a fair agreement.
“Our members had high hopes and Great Expectations for this round of bargaining, but after 26 months and the Winter of Our Discontent, contract negotiations feel more like an endurance test,” CUPE 1594 president Debbie Mihial told the crowd.
“Do I need to remind the public library board this is not The Hunger Games?” she asked.
The 180 CUPE members at the library – nearly all of whom are women – are among the lowest paid civic workers in the city. About one-half work part-time.
Instead of negotiating contract improvements, however, the Regina Public Library board wants CUPE 1594 members to work for reduced wages on Sundays and accept a pay raise that is less than what other Regina civic workers achieved.
“Library workers want to achieve a new agreement Something Fierce, but we are not prepared to accept the employer’s demands for concessions. That would be likeFalling Backwards,” Mihial told supporters.
CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham told the crowd of about 100 people that collective bargaining requires give and take to reach an agreement. “Unfortunately, the library board is doing all the taking and wants our members to do all the giving.”
Graham said he tried to think of something positive to say about the library board and management. “But after 26 months, it is a lot like trying to think of Lullabies for Little Criminals. It’s a challenge.”
Contract negotiations resume on April 4 and 10 with the assistance of provincial conciliator Doug Forseth.
Mihial said she hopes the employer comes to the table with a much better offer because a fair contract settlement is long overdue.