After more than six months of negotiations, library workers in the Okanagan are ready to strike.
Staff at all 16 branches, including Vernon, have served notice of their intention to strike and plan to begin withdrawing services this week.
CUPE 1123 has given 72 hour strike notice and will be in a legal strike position at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, unless a deal is reached before then.
Rose Jurkic, president of CUPE 1123 and a bargaining committee member, says while no libraries will close their doors library workers will no longer be collecting fines or working overtime and rotating strike action will begin Thursday morning.
“We know that libraries are extremely important in all of the communities we work in,” said Jurkic. “People depend on the services that library workers provide and that is why we are making every effort to keep our doors open. We love our jobs and are proud of the front-line services we provide. What we are asking for is our employer to treat us with respect.”
Jurkic points out that library workers in the Okanagan haven’t had any improvements to their benefit package in 20 years. This is one of the last issues left to be worked out according to Jurkic.
“Our last offer on the table was well within the library board’s budget,” said Jurkic. “When the employer refuses to bargain, unions only have one tool—and that’s the withdrawal of service.”
Okanagan library workers voted 96 per cent in favour of a strike in March. While the two parties have been negotiating for over six months, CUPE 1123 members have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2010.
CUPE 1123 represents over 150 library workers who provide front-line services to their communities at 16 different branches throughout the Okanagan region.
The Vernon branch is currently closed to the public as resources are being moved to the new 30th Avenue location. The new branch is scheduled to open Saturday.
The Armstrong, Enderby and Lumby branches are non-union therefore will still be collecting late fees.