Island library workers issue strike mandate to leadership

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island Regional Library workers give bargaining committee strike mandate.

Vancouver Island Regional Library workers could opt to strike over concessions, scheduling and benefits.

According to a press release issued Tuesday by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 401, library workers have given their bargaining committee a strike mandate in a vote counted Monday.

The release said workers are unhappy with  library management’s offer that includes “major concessions, does not address issues around benefits, and implements schedules that create problems with work-life balance and family time for members.”

“These workers are just asking to be treated fairly,” Blaine Gurrie, CUPE 401 president, said in the release. “Hopefully, the employer will rethink their demands and will instead value the important services our members provide to more than 36 coastal communities.”

The strike vote was taken at five separate member meetings and by mail-in ballots after conference calls to remote communities.

The CUPE Local 401 website posted that 96.1 per cent of members voted in favour of strike action.

The former collective agreement library employees were working under ended Dec. 31.

No date was provided as to when library workers might go on strike.

CUPE Local 401 represents more than 200 library workers who provide services at Vancouver Island Regional Library, including a books by mail service to remote communities.

The library serves the area from Sidney to Port Hardy and up to Haida Gwaii and Bella Coola, including many smaller islands.

Currie and Rosemary Bonanno, VIRL executive director, were not available for comment.