Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vancouver Librarians -- Walk off the Job!

"Vancouver library workers walked off the job today for the first time in their 77-year history, effectively closing the city's 21 branches.

“This is such an unusual position for library workers to be in, we've never been on strike before, but we've never been in a position where our local issues have been so thoroughly ignored,” said Alex Youngberg, president of CUPE 391, which represents the city's library workers.

The main issue the union is concerned about is achieving pay equity for its female-dominated work force. Ms. Youngberg said that librarians in Toronto, where pay equity was achieved several years ago, earn $7 per hour more than those in Vancouver.

The union has been in a legal strike position since Monday afternoon, but only staged one-hour walkouts at various branches until today. Around 770 union members have started picketing across the city, including the Central branch at library square. They join the over 5,000 municipal workers in Vancouver and North Vancouver who are also on strike.

The library union made a presentation to the Library Board, it's employer, last night on pay equity, but received no response, Ms. Youngberg said, prompting today's strike action. The union has asked the board to come back to the bargaining table but has not yet received a response."

LAURA DRAKE - Globe and Mail Update
July 26, 2007 at 1:42 PM EDT

Pay Equity: A Recipe for Disaster
- a Plutocracy Educational Movies presentation

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Overdue: Pay Equity for Library Workers

"The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents more than 2,500 public library workers in communities throughout British Columbia. Those workers are the lifeblood of community libraries, providing vital information and education services such as cataloguing, document processing, research, children’s services, information technology support, binding, mending, graphics and much more."

"Unfortunately, the wages paid to library workers in communities across B.C. are chronically low given the importance of the services provided, the educational requirements for many positions and the wages paid to library workers in some other provinces. Library workplaces in B.C. are predominantly female- dominated. The sad truth is that, as in other female-dominated workplaces, the jobs in B.C. libraries are woefully underpaid."

"This report will illustrate how poorly paid library jobs are in comparison to male-dominated municipal and educational jobs. We believe that the low wages are the result of gender discrimination and that employers must take action to reverse this discrimination. Pay equity adjustments are long overdue for library workers in B.C."

"Over 3 years, entry-level library jobs are paid between $21,000 and $41,000 less than comparable municipal jobs. This income is enough for a down payment on a house or condominium, or for putting 1 or 2 children through university."

"Library workers have benefited from pay equity elsewhere in Canada for over a decade. Pay equity legislation in Ontario led to job evaluation in Mississauga in the late 1990s. There, a Library Assistant II saw a $5,000 increase in salary, while Senior Librarians, received a $10,000 increase in salary. In Toronto, entry-level library workers received pay equity improvements of 24%, while other positions improved by 17-20%. Similar pay equity gains applied to Ontario provincial library employees. Federally, library workers benefited from the PSAC Pay Equity court settlement more than any other group in PSAC: averaging more than $5,000 more per year."

"Municipal librarians in Vancouver and Toronto have seen an increasing gap in their wages after Ontario pay equity legislation, as Table 6 indicates. There is a $7/hour wage gap for librarians in these locations. Further, it takes 25% longer for GVRD librarians to reach the maximum wage level than librarians in Toronto."
Original report released, June 2007, revised July 2007 (see link below)

Full report by CUPE BC