Victoria Library Labor Dispute Resolved

Victoria Library Labor Dispute Resolved

Staff of the Greater Victoria (B.C.) Public Library returned to work beginning April 2 after the library and its staff reached an agreement that day to end the lockout that had closed the library since February 17.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 410, which had been without a contract for 454 days, voted 85% in favor of the agreement. The four-year deal brings library wages in line with comparable jobs in neighboring Esquimalt and Oak Bay. The union had been seeking pay equity with jobs in Victoria, where wages are slightly higher. “I think the main dispute has been properly put to bed,” CUPE Local 410 President Ed Seedhouse told American Libraries, noting that Esquimalt and Oak Bay are part of GVPL’s service area. “They’re not that far apart. I would have accepted that as reasonable at the start.”

GVPL Chief Executive Officer Barry Holmes told AL that the union introduced the “regional equity” approach of looking at wage levels at other municipalities in the area, and credited it with making resolution possible. “That freed us up to look at other ways we could compare,” he said. “Given the pressure, both parties were able to move a little bit.”

“I’m not aware of another library in British Columbia that has achieved finality on pay equity,” Holmes added.

All staff will receive 12% raises, spread out over over the next four years, Seedhouse told American Libraries. Certain classifications will receive additional raises, ranging from $1 to $3 per hour, to address pay equity issues. Nine full-time senior page positions with benefits will be created, one for each branch, while other pages will receive an additional 30-cents-per-hour raise per year beyond the 12%. The union also negotiated a 0.5% reduction in long-term disability insurance premiums.

Book drops at all branches reopened April 4, and the nine branches themselves reopen April 8, the Victoria Times Colonist reported April 2. Most services will resume on reopening day, although some programs will be phased in over a few weeks. No late fees will be charged for the lockout period, and previously borrowed materials will have an additional grace period until April 20.

Posted on April 4, 2008. Discuss.