As the Essex County strike drags toward the 50 day mark, management and the library board continue to push their sick time change agenda on the striking workers at the expense of our community – depriving our County’s children, adults and seniors of important library services. 

Since the strike started on June 25, all 14 library branches in the County remain closed.

While the striking workers have tried to be flexible and offered different solutions to find resolutions to the strike and open our libraries for the community, management’s sick time position has remained the same since June 22, before the strike.

On top of not having any urgency in opening our libraries, management has started to issue their ‘summer fiction’ series about the strike. Here are some ‘Fact vs Fiction’ statements about the on-going strike:

  • While the library chair, Richard Meloche, claims that the board wants to be ‘prudent with public funds’, the truth remains that sick time is not a problem at the libraries and the new plan will not save any money and in fact will cost the taxpayers more over the next 30 years.
  • Mr. Meloche also says he wants the sick plan to be ‘more in alignment with best practices and other public sector plans,’ but the reality is the current library sick time plan is in line with other library collective agreements across the province and CUPE’s last proposal to the employer was the exact same sick plan being used at Essex County for other County employees.
  • Even though the library chair says ‘we value our employees and want them back to serve our communities’ – their bargaining action speaks volumes. In fact their inaction to end the strike speaks louder than their words – for example the employer returned to the bargaining table on day 45 of the strike with the same sick time position as before the strike. This is not negotiating. It is management’s attempt to dictate terms that led to the strike and why the strike continues this summer.
  • The library chair is also claiming that their ‘proposal is very generous with wage increases and the implementation of a new sick plan’ when the truth remains that the strike is not about money it is about the library board wanting to cut the sick time plan by more than half when sick time is not even an issue at the libraries.
  • Mr. Meloche is suggesting that library workers will ‘get 8.5 days a year’ under the new and more expensive plan that the board is pushing for. The reality is 80% of library workers are part time and on average will have access to only 4.5 days a year. In fact 31% of the workers will receive less than 3.5 days a year with some staff receiving mere hours a year, under the so called ‘improved contemporary plan’.
  • The employer is now claiming that ‘we deeply regret the impact this strike has had on the communities of Essex County’, then why did they not make any meaningful bargaining moves before or during the strike? In fact, the library board and some councillors have ignored the community’s plea to open the libraries, they choose to not pay attention to the neutral third-party arbitrator’s decision that ruled against the County’s sick time change plan for the paramedics and they continue to refuse to explain why they are targeting library workers over an issue that is not a problem at the libraries.