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The Fraser Valley Regional Library Board is trying to bully its unionized staff into accepting second-class treatment. But the local CUPE president warns the employers tactic wont work.

On Friday, the employer presented a final offer at the bargaining table and then filed an application with the labour relations board (LRB) to require employees vote on the package.

The offer, one the union negotiating committee has rejected many times before, makes it mandatory for employees to work weekends, removes the premium rate for working Sundays, and has many other concessions. It also includes a wage rate increase of only 2% over two years less than half that received by other library and municipal workers in the region.

The employer has asked the LRB to organize the last offer vote of the 320 CUPE library workers as soon as possible.

Local CUPE president Marina Kristjanson says members of the union negotiating committee had knots in their stomachs after Fridays negotiating meeting. It has been a very stressful bargaining round. The employer is intent on eliminating many standard clauses from our collective agreement and doesnt seem to care how it treats employees.

Ms. Kristjanson says the vast majority of library workers are women, committed to helping patrons access information, books and a range of library materials. We are not a demanding, or militant group, she explains, adding the membership was seeking only modest improvements at the bargaining table.

However, the employers negotiating committee is seeking a long list of concessions in contract negotiations. Where our collective agreement now provides standard treatment for library workers, the employer wants to substitute second-class treatment, she states.

She says the employers final offer and demand for a LRB supervised vote are designed to intimidate employees into accepting this sub-standard offer. But she predicts it wont work.

I think the employers actions will strengthen our members resolve to insist on their right to fair and equitable treatment, she states.

The Fraser Valley Regional Library is the largest library system in the province, serving communities from Delta to Boston Bar (excluding Surrey) and Port Coquitlam to Agassiz.

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Marina Kristjanson at 604-534-8176.