ESSEX, ON – After only three days of negotiations and on the first day of conciliation talks, Essex County Public Library management asked the Ontario Ministry of Labour to start the countdown to a legal lockout or strike as early as June 25, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 58 library workers.
“Management pulled the trigger and started the possible shutdown of Essex County libraries at the end of the month,” said Lori Wightman, unit chair for CUPE 2974. “We were there to bargain and reach a fair deal so our members can continue to serve the families and children during the busy summer months. Instead of bargaining – management was more interested in dictating terms, and then they called for a ‘no-board’, stopping all bargaining on day one of conciliation.”
“Our library patrons look forward to the summer programs offered at our libraries,” continued Wightman. “With a looming shutdown of the libraries, these popular programs offered to children, teens, adults and families will be severely affected as the workers could be locked out by management. The library board and management will have to explain to the community why they pulled the trigger to shut down libraries instead of working with workers to reach a fair contract.”
In 2015, over 4,000 library patrons attended 226 different summer programs that were offered at 14 library branches around Essex County. Both parties are scheduled for mediation talks on June 22. The workers’ last contract expired on March 31, 2016.