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A new poll of Saskatoon residents shows overwhelmingly support for public library workers in their protracted contract dispute with the board. The 250 library workers, members of CUPE 2669, have been without a new agreement since April 1, 2010.

In the Viewpoints Research poll commissioned by CUPE Saskatchewan, 68.6 per cent of those surveyed said they were more sympathetic to library workers than the library board. Only 13.8 per cent expressed support for the board.

“The poll suggests there is little public support for the library board’s hard-line bargaining position,” says CUPE Staff Representative Rhonda Heisler. “It also shows the board is completely out of touch with public opinion.”

Last month, the library board presented a so-called “final offer” to CUPE library workers and walked away from the bargaining table. It also refused the union’s recent request to resume bargaining, stating it would not improve its pay offer of 7 per cent over three years.

Yet, the poll shows Saskatoon residents want the board to provide a decent wage increase. Of those surveyed, 71.7 per cent support giving CUPE library workers a 15 per cent increase over three years – 41.5 per cent strongly support it. Only 17.4 per cent oppose the increase.

CUPE 2669 President Dolores Douglas is heartened by the poll results. “A fair contract settlement would be the best possible Christmas present for CUPE library workers. Hopefully, the poll will persuade the board to negotiate one.”

Library managers and out-of-scope administrative staff received average compensation of 50 per cent from 2007-2011. Most managers at the library now earn more than $90,000 a year.

In contrast, one in three CUPE library workers earns $10 an hour – and virtually everyone else is underpaid.

The Viewpoints poll surveyed 300 Saskatoon residents between November 16-28. The margin of error is +/- 5.6.