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They may have lost a battle, but members of CUPE 391 (Vancouver Public Library) were determined not to lose the war after a motion to save the VPL’s in-house bindery was narrowly defeated in a May 30, 2007 vote by the library board.

The meeting at which the vote was held drew more than 150 supporters of the bindery and the valuable services its workers have provided for more than 80 years. CUPE 391’s presentation to the board included a petition with more than 1,000 signatures. Media coverage in the wake of the vote questioned the wisdom of closing Canada’s only in-house library bindery and outsourcing its services to a private contractor.

The bindery is an integral part of Technical Services,” said CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg. “Because of its presence, librarians can order cheaper editions, knowing that they have the bindery to reinforce materials and have them last five times as long. The bindery repairs and sustains valuable memories of our many cultures.”

A board amendment ensured that no lay-offs would result from the bindery’s closure. The board called for library management to work with CUPE 391 to relocate the 5.8 affected positions within the VPL system “at comparable wages.” Nonetheless, Youngberg said the board majority had failed to consider other options for keeping the bindery open.

In wake of the vote, CUPE 391 members wore black buttons on the job to protest the board’s decision, and the union met with management to discuss alternatives to closing the bindery.

Members of the public were being encouraged to visit the union local’s online petition and send a letter to Mayor Sam Sullivan and city councillors. And Youngberg was preparing a detailed counter-proposal that would look at moving the bindery to a heritage building in the downtown eastside.