Librarians to set up picket lines at five VIRL branches: BCGEU

Librarians to set up picket lines at five VIRL branches: BCGEU
Librarians at the Vancouver Island Regional Library set up a picket line at the Cowichan branch on March 9 after rejecting the latest offer by the library. (CHEK News)

Librarians with the Vancouver Island Regional Library have announced they will be expanding on the strike measures by setting up picket lines at five branches.

The workers, represented by BC General Employees’ Union, have been striking since March 9 asking for higher wages to reflect the cost of living, and the increased challenges brought by the pandemic.

“We’ve said from the beginning—librarians don’t want to be on picket lines in front of their libraries, they want to get back into their libraries and back to work,” said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU in a statement.

“They’ve made every effort from day one of this job action to find a balance between pressuring their employer to get back to the table while minimizing the impact on their communities and their CUPE colleagues. The bottom line is, our members deserve a fair contract, and the VIRL Board has the power to end this job action by issuing a new wage mandate to get that contract settled.”

Previously, picket lines have been set up on a rotating basis at one branch per day.

On Friday, BCGEU announced picket lines would be set up at the following five branches:

  • Port Hardy (7110 Market Street)
  • Comox (101 – 1720 Beaufort Ave)
  • Qualicum Beach (101 – 660 Primrose Street)
  • Sooke (6671 Wadams Way)
  • South Cowichan (310 – 2720 Mill Bay Road, Mill Bay)

On March 1, VIRL made an offer which the union rejected.

The union made a counter-offer on March 3. VIRL did not say how they responded to the counter-offer, but on March 15 the organization issued a press release stating the previous offer was still on the table and it is standing by waiting for a revised counter-proposal.

BCGEU Local 702 represents 12 per cent of workers at the VIRL, representing professional librarians and colleagues who work at 20 of 39 branches, and in information technology, collections, and support services divisions.

The BCGEU contract expired in December 2020, and contract negotiations began in September 2021.

CHEK has reached out to VIRL for comment and will update the story when a response is received.

READ MORE: VIRL librarians seeking new contract hit the picket line in Cowichan

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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