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The Regina Public Library (RPL) came to the bargaining table yesterday with some modest contract improvements, but continued to insist CUPE library workers accept sweeping monetary concessions – demands that led to the collapse of conciliation talks.

The two sides exchanged only a few proposals through the day with the assistance of provincial conciliator Doug Forseth. The employer refused to withdraw its demands that CUPE 1594 members work longer hours on Sunday for reduced wages, agree to reduced health and dental benefits for new part-time employees, and end long-term severance benefits for new employees.

Late afternoon, the employer tabled its so-called “final offer” and cancelled conciliation talks scheduled for April 10.

It is very disappointing the library board and management steadfastly refuse to negotiate a fair settlement for our 180 members at the library, 27 months after our last agreement expired,” said CUPE 1594 President Debbie Mihial. Although the employer finally improved its wage offer, the increase is conditional on CUPE 1594 members accepting significant monetary concessions.

The RPL Board is intent on creating a two-tiered workforce at the library, where new employees will receive a fraction of the benefits of current employees. The employer is also refusing to even consider contract language to secure our pay equity and job evaluation plan, which the parties have spent years developing and implementing,” she said.

Mihial said the bargaining committee will hold a special membership meeting to discuss all possible options to secure a fair agreement. Members voted 83 per cent in support of a strike mandate earlier this week.