A large percentage of the workers at public libraries are precariously employed, a new CUPE survey has found. Twenty-eight per cent of CUPE public library workers are not working in full-time or permanent jobs, and an additional 24 per cent are at risk of becoming precariously employed, according to major findings from Phase 1 of the first-ever CUPE national library workers’ survey on precarious employment.
Precarious work may be part-time, temporary, casual or contract work. It provides fewer full-time, permanent hours of work and fewer, if any, employment benefits like access to extended health insurance benefits or pension plans.
Precarious work is a major problem across our economy, but CUPE’s 2014 membership survey found that permanent, part-time employment is highest among public library workers. A full 70 per cent of library clerks work part-time hours. These results prompted delegates to CUPE’s 2015 National Convention to adopt a resolution which directed the union to conduct a survey on precarious employment with CUPE library workers across the country.
The results are in, and they raise concerns about the wellbeing of workers – and the health of the library sector. The survey also found:
- 79 per cent of public library workers are women.
- 41 per cent of public library workers earn less than $30,000 per year.
- Public library workers work more permanent part-time hours, and fewer permanent full-time hours compared to the CUPE membership as a whole.
- It can take several years for part-time public library workers to find full-time library employment.
- 1 in 5 public library workers work more than one job.
- 4 in 10 public library workers do not have access to extended health insurance benefits.
- Nearly 1 in 4 public library workers have no pension coverage.
Phase 1 of the survey project consisted of a national, random telephone survey of CUPE library workers who work in stand-alone public libraries (defined as a public library that has its own CUPE local that is not part of another local, and that has its own collective agreement). Phase 2 of the survey project was launched at the 2017 CUPE National Convention.
CUPE represents 119 stand-alone public library bargaining units across the country. Of that number, members of 71 bargaining units participated in the survey representing 60 per cent of all stand-alone bargaining units. A total of 805 CUPE public library workers participated. The survey was conducted between late August and early September 2017 in collaboration with Viewpoints Research.