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Frontline library workers with the Essex County Library, in Southwestern Ontario, went on strike Saturday, June 25, after management refused to back away from contract clawbacks being pushed by Essex County Council.

Man reading a book to four children with bookshelves in the background

“Management and the county created a phantom issue to push workers out on the picket line – sick time is not a problem at our workplace and the employer and the county know this and have acknowledged it,” said Lori Wightman, unit chair for CUPE 2974. “Popular summer programs like Summer Reading Club, Family Story Times and Book Clubs, and many others, are being affected because, instead of serving library patrons, our members have been forced out on the street.”

“What is really troubling is that county council is willing to jeopardize library services even though they know that sick time is not a problem here,” continued Wightman. “So why are they targeting library workers when we serve our community with pride and we love our jobs?”

“We continue to be available to bargain for a fair contract so our members can get back to work and keep libraries open,” said Wightman. “But it is up to the county to change their attitude and stop targeting library workers over a phantom issue.”

Pickets went up Saturday, June 25. The main picket line is at the headquarters of the Essex Library located at 360 Fairview Avenue West in Essex, with other pickets at the different library branches across the county.