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Saskatoon:  For the second time this year, a number of workers at the Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) will get a raise because of an increase in Saskatchewan’s minimum wage. 

The Saskatchewan government announced yesterday the minimum wage rate will increase to $10 an hour effective December 1. About 22,000 people in Saskatchewan earn the minimum wage, including some CUPE members working at the public library.

It is not often you hear of public sector workers who only make the minimum wage, but that’s the sad reality at the library,” says CUPE 2669 President Dolores Douglas. She estimates about one-third of the 250 CUPE members at the library make between $9.50 an hour to $10.07 an hour.

Saskatoon may shine, but not for many CUPE library workers,” she says.

In contrast, the starting wage rate in other public libraries is much higher: In Regina, the starting hourly rate is $12.10, in Lethbridge it is $12.04, in Medicine Hat it is $12.94, and in the Fraser Valley it is $15.48.

The truth is, it is hard to find a public library anywhere else in the country that pays its staff as poorly as Saskatoon,” says CUPE staff representative Rhonda Heisler. In contrast, most of the managers at the SPL earn more than $90,000 annually and received big increases over the last five years, she adds.

The CUPE library negotiating committee wants to see significant pay increases for all of its members in this bargaining round, but so far the employer has demonstrated little interest.  

The library management and board continue to insist CUPE members work more mandatory hours on weekends and evenings. The CUPE 2669 members have been without a new agreement for more than 30 months.

Bargaining resumes October 11.