Workers for the Sechelt Public Library, represented by CUPE 391, are celebrating the recent ratification of their new collective agreement. After three days of collaborative negotiations, union and library representatives were able to reach a positive agreement that addresses key issues for precarious workers.  

“It was a productive round of negotiations, and we are thankful that the employer was receptive to improved conditions for casual workers,” said Aliza Nevarie, CUPE 391 president. “The addition of sick leave for casual workers, a right that should be universal for all workers, will make a huge difference for our members and their families.”

Casual and auxiliary workers commonly have fewer rights and work for lower wages than regular employees. In many cases, casual employees work the very same hours and in the same positions as their regular, permanent colleagues. The term “precarious” is used to describe these workers because they have limited or no job security, and lack basic health, pension and other benefits. Workers can remain in precarious conditions for years before successfully moving into a regular position.

“Libraries across B.C. are using auxiliary and casual staff in place of hiring regular workers in order to save money at the expense of those workers and their families”, said Nevarie. “To their credit, the Sechelt Library has taken important steps towards reversing this trend within their workplace.”

Other key elements of the settlement include increases to daily guaranteed hours, a Job Evaluation Plan with associated special wage adjustments, a plan to collaborate on a new Violence in the Workplace Policy, and new language to support paid special leave for all employees. The new agreement will span four years and features a total cumulative wage increase of 8.7 percent.