Image of a smiling woman in a library with the words Choose CUPEIn a strong vote on Wednesday, staff at the Kitchener Public Library in Kitchener, Ontario voted to join CUPE. 

“This is amazing. We have long felt the need to have a stronger voice in our workplace,” said Joseph Brannan, one of the library workers involved in the organizing drive. “There are challenges in our workplace, but we all really love the work we do and the public we serve.”

Low wages, concerns about health and safety, and issues of favouritism top the list of reasons why library workers are increasingly joining CUPE. Many health and safety concerns in Kitchener and elsewhere stem from the ongoing housing, opioid and mental health crises. Because all levels of government are failing to adequately address these issues, library workers are increasingly on the front lines because libraries are a warm, dry location that is open to the public.

“We look forward to maintaining our excellent standard of public service as we work to ensure that our voices are finally heard,” said Hannah White, a library worker and new CUPE member.

The vote comes just weeks after 2,000 teaching and research assistants at the University of Waterloo also voted to join CUPE.