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REGINA: Regina Public Library employees represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees are calling on library management to amend their final offer so that contract negotiations can resume.

We would much rather be at the bargaining table than walking the picket line, said Rosemary Oddie, acting president of CUPE Local 1594. But in order to have meaningful negotiations, the employer needs to back off on their final offer which ignores our key concerns.

After two days of rotating strikes, the union sent a letter yesterday inviting Library Director Sandy Cameron to return to the negotiation table to restart contract talks.

The 180 library workers want a health plan, a commitment to study gender-based wage discrimination and protection against contracting-out.

This labour dispute is about fairness, said Oddie. It is about treating in-scope and out-of-scope employees at the library equitably. It is about correcting gender-based wage discrimination in a female-dominated workplace. It is about keeping meaningful jobs at the library, rather than farming them out to private companies in Ontario.

The union is also seeking guaranteed minimum hours of work for part-time employees and protection against technological change.

Oddie said the unions bargaining proposals have been items for discussion at the negotiating table for the last decade. The membership of this bargaining unit have waited long enough to have these issues addressed, she said. The library posted a $700,000 surplus last year, so there is an ability to address these concerns.

The unions members are employed as librarians, library assistants, clerks, pages, library technicians, computer operators and maintenance staff. Their last contract expired on December 31, 2000.

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For more information contact Rosemary Oddie at 522-7357

or Mike Keith at 525-5874 or 536-4856