Library worker looks serious and is holding a stack of books to put away.

Powell River library workers, represented by CUPE 798, have served 72-hour strike notice to the Powell River Public Library.

The union will be in a legal strike position as of Monday, October 24. However, mediated talks are scheduled to continue this week.

“We know that residents rely on the important services our members provide at the library, and that taking strike action will have a significant impact on the community,” says CUPE 798 President Fred Stutt.  “We are committed to continuing negotiations next week, and we hope the library will be willing to address our longstanding pay equity concerns with a concrete plan.”

Stutt says that library workers’ wages start considerably lower than their colleagues at the City of Powell River who perform equivalent work with comparable complexity, responsibility, education, and skill requirements.

He adds that the union has been raising this issue for more than a decade and that they are looking for the library to implement a job evaluation program similar to the one that is already in place at the City of Powell River, the main funder of the Powell River Public Library.

CUPE 798 members have been without a contract since December 2021, and most recently had three days of mediation with a neutral third-party mediator appointed by the Labour Relations Board.

The other outstanding issue is ensuring that there is always a fully trained and qualified staff member in charge at the library, who is fairly compensated for this work.

CUPE 798 represents about 450 local government and social service workers in the qathet Region, including those at the city, regional district, Inclusion Powell River, and Powell River Public Library.