Hand taking a book from a library shelfOver the weekend, workers at Newmarket Public Library voted almost unanimously (93%) in favour of strike action.

“Newmarket has the lowest-paid library workers in all of York Region. Most are also part-time and have no benefits,” said Kathryn Richardson, Chair of the Newmarket Public Library Unit of CUPE Local 905. CUPE 905 represents library workers in Newmarket and across York Region. “Our library workers are incredibly dedicated and deliver amazing programming, but it’s getting harder and harder to attract and retain great people when wages and working conditions are better pretty much everywhere else.”

Main issues are around the cost of living, as inflation hit 8.1% last year, the reliance on part-time workers with no health benefits, and management continually adding new tasks to the workload.

“Library work is increasingly complex. The library provides vital services to all Newmarket residents, it’s one of the only safe and free spaces that is open to the public,” said Katherine Grzejszczak, President of CUPE 905. “As the Town and the Province fail to provide affordable housing, address poverty and provide social services in our community, library workers become the front-line staff for every challenge. And it takes someone special to be able to do all that as part of their job.”

The previous collective agreement expired in March, and the two sides have bargaining dates scheduled through July and August.