January 21, 2018

Union Strikes, Shuts Down Vancouver, BC Library

By Lynn Blumenstein

For the first time in the 77-year history of Vancouver Public Library (VPL), BC, the entire 22-branch system has been shut down by a strike. It began yesterday; more than 470 out of 771 union members picketed in front of the central library. Earlier this month, 97 percent of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) Local 391, which represents, staff, voted to strike, and on July 23, began rotating one-hour study sessions at several locations, temporarily disrupting library service for two days. CUPE Local 391 president Alex Youngberg told Library Journal that the strike will continue "until we get our contract signed, sealed, and delivered."

Pay equity is the major issue, "as this is a female-dominated work force, this is long overdue," according to the Youngberg. Meanwhile, a broad range of city services, including recreation and park services, have been affected, as other unions are also in negotiations with the city. The library union’s bargaining blog calls for improved benefits for members and families, rights for part-time and auxiliary staff, and better job security and protection against technological change. Patrons were asked not to return materials during the strike; library officials said no late fees were to be charged and requested patrons not use book drops.

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