Home Organizations & Associations Vancouver Island Library Board BCGEU librarians ratify collective agreement with Vancouver Island Regional Library

BCGEU librarians ratify collective agreement with Vancouver Island Regional Library

Wage improvements total over 12% plus $500 signing bonus.


Friday April 22, 2022 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Library users around Vancouver Island will be glad for this news! Library services were impacted from March 8.

With an agreement now in place, all VIRL librarians have returned to their branches and resumed the community-focused work they are so passionate about.

There is full resumption of in-branch and virtual programs and services, reference questions, and the many other critically important services librarians provide every day. 

Both sides glad for resolution:

Seven months after starting bargaining and almost seven weeks after starting job action, members of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) working as librarians (Local 702) for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) have voted almost 90% in favour of ratifying a new collective agreement.

virl, chair, gaby wickstrom
VIRL Chair Gaby Wickstrom via Zoom during the April 9, 2022 board of trustees meeting.

“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. “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.”

“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, 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,” says Wickstrom. 

Ratified by BCGEU April 19 & VIRL April 20:
On April 11, the bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement with their employer. The tentative agreement was ratified by a strong majority of the bargaining unit on April 19. The VIRL board ratified the agreement the following day.

joanna lord, stephanie smith, bcgeu
The VIRL librarians strike at the Sidney/North Saanich branch on March 15, 2022 was attended by Local 702 Chairperson Joanna Lord (left) and BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. [FB]

Four-year agreement:

The new four-year agreement is effective from December 31, 2020, to December 31, 2024. The new terms are retroactive to its start date.

The collective agreement covers 48 member librarians at 39 VIRL branches.

Significant wage improvements:
Highlights from the agreement include wage improvements that equate to a 12% increase over four yars, and breaks down as follows.

  • January 1, 2021: 3% (retroactive)  
  • January 1, 2022: 3% (retroactive) with a $500 signing bonus  
  • January 1, 2023: 3%   
  • January 1, 2024: 3% 

There is also $500 signing bonus for all active employees.

“These wage increases are important steps toward closing the wage gap between VIRL librarians and those working for other, comparable regional library systems in our province,” says BCGEU in a news release.

Respect in the workplace:

BCGEU members working at VIRL also attained improved terms for parental leave, workload, and workplace harassment.
“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.”

“In addition to its monetary provisions, the agreement also holds new language for greater bargaining unit/employer collaboration on issues of shared priority,” says VIRL in a news release April 22

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About BCGEU:

The BCGEU describes itself as B.C.’s most dynamic, diverse, and fastest growing union — representing more than 82,000 members who work in every sector of the economy and live in every community across the province including the 48 librarians who work for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.

===== LINKS:

VIRL strike updates | VIRL news releases | BCGEU news updates | BCGEU librarian strike updates

===== BCGEU Local 702 Librarian Strike timeline:

BCGEU issued strike notice on February 25 and picketing began on March 8 at rotating locations. The strike has escalated with all BCGEU librarian members on strike and multiple locations impacted daily, to April 11.

sooke library, strike
BCGEU librarians on strike, joined on the picket line by CUPE workers and other supporters, on March 18, 2022, out the front of the new Sooke Library on Wadams Way. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

March 2022

Starting March 8 through 15, picket lines were held outside VIRL library branches, one day at at time, including: Duncan, Chemanius, Ladysmith and Sidney/North Saanich.

On March 16 there was a picket line at the Campbell River branch, and at the Port McNeill branch on March 17.

On Friday March 18 there were five locations with picket lines on that one day: Port Hardy, Comox, Qualicum Beach, Sooke, and South Cowichan.

monk office

On March 21 there were picket lines at Nanaimo North, Nanaimo Harbourfront, and Creativity Commons branches. On March 22 the picket lines are active at: Nanaimo Harbourfront and Creativity Commons, Campbell River, and Sidney/North Saanich.

On March 24 (and tomorrow March 25) the picket lines will see five branches closed: Campbell River, Courtenay, Cowichan (in Duncan), Nanaimo North, Sidney/North Saanich, and Sooke.

Saturday March 26: Lake Cowichan, Nanaimo North, Nanaimo Harbourfront, Creativity Commons, Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach, Port McNeill, Courtenay, Cowichan, and Sooke.

Monday March 28: Nanaimo North. Tuesday March 29: Cowichan Branch (Duncan).

Wednesday March 30: Comox, Ladysmith, Parksville, and Sooke branches.

Thursday March 31: Cumberland, Nanaimo Harbourfront, Qualicum Beach, and South Cowichan branches are closed due to strike action.

SFAS, show dates, 2022
Sooke Fine Arts Show 2022 is back as a live exhibit! July 22 through August 1.

April 2022

  • Friday April 1: several branches saw picket lines.
  • Saturday April 2: info to come
  • Sunday April 3: no picket lines / branches open for usual Sunday hours
  • Monday April 4: Courtenay, Cowichan, Ladysmith, and Port Alberni branches are closed due to picketing.
  • Tuesday April 5: Campbell River, Sooke, Gabriola Island and Qualicum Beach branches closed due to picketing.
  • Wednesday April 6: Cumberland, South Cowichan (Mill Bay), Chemainus, Parksville, and Qualicum Beach.
  • Thursday April 7: (to come)
  • Friday April 8: Quadra Island, Sidney/North Saanich, Nanaimo Harbourfront and Creativity Commons, Nanaimo North, and Nanaimo Wellington.
  • Saturday April 9: Cumberland, Cowichan Lake, Nanaimo Harbourfront and Creativity Commons, Nanaimo North, and Nanaimo Wellington.
  • Sunday April 10: No scheduled pickets. Branches are open per regular Sunday hours.
  • Monday April 11: Campbell River, Cowichan, Nanaimo Harbourfront and Creativity Commons, Nanaimo North, and Nanaimo Wellington.
  • Tuesday April 12. No picket lines.
  • April 19: agreement ratified by BCGEU.
  • April 20: agreement ratified by VIRL.