VIRL union members vote in favour of ratifying collective agreement

VIRL union members vote in favour of ratifying collective agreement
BCGEU members at the South Cowichan VIRL branch on April 6. (BC GEU)

After seven weeks of job action, librarians at the Vancouver Island Regional Library have voted almost 90 per cent in favour of ratifying a collective agreement.

The latest collective agreement expired in December 2020, and negotiations for the new contract started in September 2021.

A tentative agreement was reached on April 11, according to a statement by BC General Employees’ Union (BC GEU), and was ratified by members on April 19.

On April 20 VIRL’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to accept the offer.

“As a Board, we are thankful to both sides of the bargaining table for their commitment and dedication to reaching a fair and sustainable agreement,” says Gaby Wickstrom, chair of the VIRL Board of Trustees. “With the strike now behind us, it is time to look forward and begin the important work of ensuring our libraries are safe and healthy environments for our staff and the diverse community members who use our spaces every day.”

The agreement is effective retroactively from December 31, 2020 until the same day 2024.

“This has been a challenging round of bargaining, but these members stuck together and achieved the deal they were looking for from the start,” said BCGEU vice-president, Joanna Lord in a news release. “Through their solidarity and thanks to incredible support from library users and the labour movement, BCGEU members working for VIRL demanded better – and they got it.”

The agreement includes a wage increase of 12 per cent over four years and a $500 signing bonus for all active employees.

The wage increase is three per cent per year, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021.

The agreement also contains new language for greater bargaining unit and employer collaboration on issues of shared priority.

“All workers in B.C. deserve respect in their workplace and a wage that keeps pace with the high cost of living in this province,” said Lord. “That’s what these negotiations were about from day one and that’s what this deal represents for our members.”

This agreement applies to the 48 members at 39 VIRL branches represented by BC GEU.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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