“We want to return to negotiations and to work, serving our communities. We know service disruptions from job action are stressful for the community and so members paused job action Thursday in hopes the employer would take our action seriously and send an offer. We’re disappointed that hasn’t happened yet. VIRL’s management has the power to restore library services.” — Stephanie Smith, BCGEI President
Burnaby (15 March 2022) — Members of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) have been without a contract since December 2020. Bargaining did not begin until September 2021, delayed due to the employer. Despite intervention from a mediator, negotiations hit impasse in mid-February 2022.
Library workers fighting for a fair contract
Librarians then voted 95% in favour of striking for their needs, and despite hearing that result and receiving 72-hour strike notice, the employer has still not provided a fair and respectful offer to librarians. Job action has been taking place, with rotating pickets at various branches across Vancouver. Workers are still waiting for a response to the counter offer the union sent to the employer via the Labour Relations Board mediator.
“We want to return to negotiations and to work, serving our communities,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “We know service disruptions from job action are stressful for the community and so members paused job action Thursday in hopes the employer would take our action seriously and send an offer. We’re disappointed that hasn’t happened yet. VIRL’s management has the power to restore library services.”
You can help: Show support
Union members are asking library users to support their job action by joining them on the picket line or refusing to cross it should VIRL choose to keep the branch open. Librarians are also calling on the VIRL Board of Trustees to encourage the employer to provide a fair offer and return to negotiations.
“We’ve received a response from the VIRL Board, which we’re grateful for, but unfortunately it hasn’t resulted in a response from the employer. Until we do receive a fair offer to take back to members, the union is making plans on a day-by-day basis. We’re also grateful for the solidarity from our CUPE colleagues who are honouring our picket lines both physically and virtually. We know the employer is making operational decisions during our job action and we hope to see them channel some of that energy towards resolving this issue.”
BCGEU/NUPGE members appreciate the solidarity shown by the public and other unions in their fight to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement.
Picket line locations are posted on the BCGEU website: https://www.bcgeu.ca/virl