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Prince Albert: Employees at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, have many reasons for seeking a major wage increase in this bargaining round. Today, they are leafleting outside the library to tell the public about five of them.

Library workers are among the best educated and poorest paid of any municipal workers in the city, explains union spokesperson Gail Peterson. Compared to inside jobs at City Hall, library employees are paid less than every classification, except one the assistant concession manager.

Ms. Peterson says the point isnt that municipal workers are overpaid, its that library workers arent paid nearly enough. The average wage for the 30 workers at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library is about $19,000 a year.

As a result of the poor wages, most of the CUPE members at the library are living at or below the poverty line which for a family of four is $27,127.

Talk to almost any of the in-scope library staff, and theyll tell you they are not making enough money to meet their basic living expenses such as food, clothing and shelter.

Ms. Peterson says library workers want to negotiate a pay system that reflects the value of our work, instead of the current pay system that reflects gender-based pay discrimination.

In its brief to the Library Board (distributed to Board members earlier this week) employees called for urgent action on the wage issue. The Board is meeting tonight to discuss its budget.

The Library always seems to have money for new hardware in the library, but it never has money for staff wage increases, the union brief states. That has to change. Our patrons value the staff at the library. Its time the Board did too.

The library workers have been at the bargaining table since May of last year. Their collective agreement expired December 31, 1999.

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Note to media:

The CUPE members will be leafleting outside the library this morning, over the lunch hour and after 4 p.m. today.

For copies of the CUPE Brief, call the Prince Albert CUPE Office.

For more information leave a message for Gail Petersonat the CUPE office 922-3895. Shell return your call.

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