Okanagan Regional Libraries fail to reach deal, union plans action

It’s unknown if picket signs will pop up in front of local libraries.

Okanagan Regional Library has indicated it will stick to its current contract position with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“It’s a concern because we were hoping they would move and we could settle the contract,” said Rose Jurkic, local 1123 president.

The union’s 155 members — including in Vernon and Cherryville — will be considering their next steps.

“There will be further job action but we have to give 72-hour notice and we have to decide what form of action we take,” said Jurkic.

“We’re really trying to do job action that doesn’t affect the public.”

ORL has offered a 4.5 per cent increase over three years, and the union can decide if it goes to wages or benefits or a combination of both.

“Given the current economic climate, the ORL board feels this is a just offer – one that would fairly compensate our front-line staff while ensuring there is budget for improvements to technology and services for the benefit of all ORL customers,” states an ORL release.

“We feel our wage and benefit packages are fair, and this is evidenced by the extremely low turnover we have amongst ORL staff. It is true there haven’t been substantial improvements to the benefits package in 20 years; this is because the package is quite comprehensive and in previous negotiations, CUPE has opted for salary increases over benefits improvements.”

CUPE is seeking a five per cent wage hike over three years as well as improvements to benefits.

Jurkic says that based on an 80/20 split between the employer and unionized and non-union workers for dental coverage, ORL pays $30,000 a year.

“We’re talking about $30,000 in a $15 million budget. Aren’t we worth that?” she said adding that the cost of benefits has been eating away at paycheques.



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