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Vancouver: Library workers are hailing the news that city council’s new appointee to the library board plans to review a controversial proposal to reorganize the library.

Labour friendly councillor Tim Louis, who will be appointed to the 13-member board next month, said in today’s Vancouver Courier newspaper that he also wants to keep the library open 52 weeks a year. Currently, the library closes for a week each August. The CUPE library workers either take vacation time or lose a week’s pay.

It’s great to hear city councillors advocating for expanded library services, says CUPE Local 391 President Audrey Fennema, adding it’s a novel development at city hall. She’s also pleased Councillor Louis is making a review of the reorganization proposal a high priority.

The 700 CUPE library workers made the reorganization plan a civic election issue. The union ran newspaper ads questioning the proposal to spend more than $200,000 to create a new layer of managers, when the library has to close its doors for a week each year to reduce costs.

Library patrons are always telling us they want expanded hours and improved services, says Ms. Fennema. We never hear them requesting more managers.

The union also challenged the timing of the proposal. The board intended to vote on the management plan at its meeting on November 27, before new library board members were appointed or a new library director hired.

But at the November 27 meeting, where CUPE library executive members provided a detailed critique of the reorganization proposal, Board Chair Blair Qualey announced it was postponing its decision until the new year.

The CUPE library workers welcomed the delay and are hopeful the new board will shelve the plan permanently. There are many ways to improve library services, but spending $200,000 on a plan to replace 13 CUPE librarians with 10 managers isn’t one of them, she says.

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