Over 20 members and supporters attended the City of Saskatoon council meeting Monday night. At the meeting, council forwarded eight strong letters of support from the public to the Library Board, urging quick settlement of a fair contract. “It is a disgrace that Saskatoon’s library workers are not equal to other library workers in the province nor to other city employees,” says one letter.
“It’s appalling that library staff are paid so poorly and as a city we should be ashamed that this is the present state of affairs,” says another.
Another supporter writes: “I understand that the library board is not directly involved in negotiations but are they deaf and blind to the basic inequality of their employees’ positions relative to other library workers in the city. I, as others, interact with library workers several times a month and it is always a positive encounter. It grieves me to see professional, competent and enthusiastic people disrespected by their employer.”
“It’s important that the Board hear what the public has to say,“ says CUPE 2669 Vice-President Dolores Douglas. “Libraries are publicly funded but the funding choices that this Board made were inappropriate. Hopefully the newly-appointed board will re-evaluate the situation and agree to resume contract negotiations.”
Douglas is referring to a wage increase that averaged 49 per cent given to managers and non-union administrative staff since 2008. CUPE 2669’s bargaining committee is seeking fairness greater than the 2-2-3% mandate offered to other city workers.
“When you’re already starting out with such low wages, a 7% increase over three years is just not enough,” adds Douglas.
Members of the union also question that the Board can find money for their 100th anniversary celebrations yet plead poverty when it comes to fair wages for library workers.
“We’re proud of our library and the 100 years of public libraries we are celebrating in Saskatoon,” says Douglas. “But the Board isn’t inviting us to the party. We don’t feel that we are valued by the Board.
CUPE 2669 members held an information picket last week outside of the Frances Morrison Library to raise public awareness. Community activist and videographer Don Kossick talked to library workers and supporters at the event. Saskatoon Library Workers on the Linevideo: http://youtu.be/voZ1hdSTqgE
CUPE 2669 represents approximately 250 library workers at Saskatoon Public Library. They have now been without a contract for almost three years and the employer is refusing to continue bargaining despite repeated requests from the Local.
CUPE Local 2669 members are still waiting for the Library Board to return to the bargaining table in the hopes that an agreement can be reached. Their blog can be found at readallaboutus.net.