TORONTO, Ont. – A strike by 2,400 Toronto library workers could shut down the library system at 12:01 a.m., July 14, if a deal cannot be reached between the Toronto Civic Employees’ Union, Local 416 (CUPE) and the Toronto Public Library Board.
“The employer has shown no respect for the services our members provide to the public,” says Local 416 president Brian Cochrane. “Many of the issues facing library workers are similar to issues facing other municipal workers. Over 50 per cent of the library workforce is now part-time, with little or no benefits – it’s obvious that library management does not believe in full employment, and unless that attitude changes, it is likely we will have a strike.”
Local 416 also represents 6,000 outside municipal workers in the City of Toronto. The outside bargaining unit could be on strike as early as July 8. “Unless talks start moving towards a settlement, we could see library workers and outside workers on the street together – it won’t be a very nice summer for Torontonians and visitors to our great city if 8,400 public employees are not providing their services,” said Cochrane. Several City councillors sit on the Library Board. Local 416 will be urging the public to contact local councillors to demand they reach a negotiated settlement with library and outside workers.
“We will do everything we can to achieve a negotiated settlement at both the library and the outside bargaining tables,” said Cochrane. “But unless direction is given to management’s team of negotiators to move towards a fair settlement, it’s difficult to see how we can avoid a strike.”
“Half the workers are part-time, and library management has cut a quarter of our workforce since 1991. The Library Board also wants to shift work to the lowest paid workers in our system – services will suffer.” Library pages, mostly students earning between 8 and 12 dollars an hour, are being asked to perform duties normally assigned to clerical staff.
“It’s called the casualization of work and it’s not good for our libraries,” adds Cochrane. “It’s difficult to cobble together a decent living when library management has shut the door to full-time employment opportunities in this predominantly female workforce.”
A shutdown would end all children’s summer programs, public access to computer terminals, home delivery programs for seniors, and all library services.
For further information, please contact:
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications 416-292-3999, ext. 216 (voicemail) - 416-727-9144 (cell)