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GRAND FORKS - The library board has finally agreed to meet with locked out CUPE 2254 members in Grand Forks at the bargaining table. The Board locked out the five library workers on January 20 before any negotiations had taken place.

The Board has now agreed to meet without preconditions at the bargaining table on March 12 and 13. Provincial mediator Mark Atkinson will be in attendance.

The contract at the public library expired on June 30 and the board has so far refused to negotiate - demanding instead that the workers accept a set of proposals that would gut their collective agreement. The board’s proposals attack seniority, sick days, vacation pay, wages, job classifications, promotions and hours of work.

The lockout is the first ever job action at the library. In the 15 years the facility has been unionized, previous contracts were negotiated directly between the library workers and the board. This time the board hired private “consultant” Don Percifield at $150/hr, $1200/day , whose fee cap of $7,500 came off the moment the board initiated a lockout. The board told CUPE it didn’t actually know how much public money it owes to Percifield because it hadn’t asked for an invoice in six months.

Under the terms of the deal between the board and Percifield obtained by CUPE under Freedom of Information„ the longer the dispute drags on, the more money Percifield makes.

For their part, the library workers say they are determined to protect their rights, and want to get back to doing their jobs - serving the community of Grand Forks in the public library.

Contact: Murray Bush, National Communications rep 604-291-1940 (310)