Home Organizations & Associations Vancouver Island Library Board BCGEU librarians reject latest VIRL offer & escalate strikes

BCGEU librarians reject latest VIRL offer & escalate strikes

Picket lines March 24 & 25: Campbell River, Courtenay, Cowichan (in Duncan), Nanaimo North, Sidney/North Saanich, & Sooke

Thursday March 24, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Updated March 25, 2022]

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends


BCGEU has rejected the latest offer from Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL). Last week VIRL had submitted an offer and awaited a revised counter-proposal.

A return to mediated bargaining was announced on March 22, but today the VIRL offer was rejected and strike action has escalated.

Things seem to be in a quagmire now.

Six strike locations March 24:

“Following two nights of VIRL-requested mediation, during which VIRL put forward an offer it considers fair and respectful to our librarians, and sustainable for the communities it serves, regrettably the offer was rejected by the BCGEU bargaining committee,” it was stated by VIRL this morning.  

virl, library, branches, map
Vancouver Island Regional Library branch locations in south Vancouver Island area. [VIRL]

Further, the BCGEU workers escalated their service-impacting strikes this morning, closing the following branches today: 

  • Campbell River
  • Courtenay
  • Cowichan (in Duncan) 
  • Nanaimo North
  • Sidney/North Saanich
  • Sooke

VIRL says their “fair and reasonable offer remains on the table and VIRL is committed to the Collective Bargaining process.”  

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]

Resolution at the bargaining table:

“We respect our members’ right to picket and remain hopeful that a mutually agreeable resolution will be found soon,” says Carson.

“A resolution will only be found at the bargaining table and we are optimistic an agreement will surface now that discussions will recommence,” Carson told Island Social Trends on Tuesday.

Letters to board members:

BCGEU librarians have been encouraging the public to write letters or emails to their local elected representatives who sit on the VIRL board of directors, to express their support for librarians and library services.

virl chair, gaby wickstrom
VIRL Board Chair Gaby Wickstrom.

Board Chair is Gaby Wickstrom (a town councillor from Port McNeill). In the Sooke and Juan de Fuca area, the board reps are District of Sooke Councillor Jeff Bateman and CRD Regional Director for Juan de Fuca Mike Hicks.

Municipalities pay into the VIRL budget, with funds levied from the taxpayers in their communities.

“Unlike many other primarily urban library systems, 80 percent of the communities VIRL serves are rural coastal communities, grappling with post-pandemic economic recovery,” says Carson.

He says that the VIRL board feels an agreement must be sustainable for all the communities we serve. | VIRL Branches

As of Tuesday, VIRL had received general correspondence from the public pertaining to the strike.

dumont tirecraft, ad
virl, sooke, opening

Picket timeline:

To start, four picket lines were held outside VIRL library branches,one day at at time: 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.

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.

Today 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.

library, sooke, picket
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]

VIRL generally posts the strike locations for the information of their patrons, usually saying that other branches will not be impacted on those days.

monk office

===== LINKS:

VIRL strike updates | VIRL news releases | BCGEU news updates

===== ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mary Brooke, editor, West Shore Voice News
Mary P Brooke, Editor and Publisher, Island Social Trends.

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering the long saga of the new Sooke Library development since 2009. News was first published in MapleLine Magazine, then Sooke Voice News, and West Shore Voice News before that publication series morphed into the region-wide online news portal at www.islandsocialtrends.ca .

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VIRL librarians welcome BCGEU president at Sidney branch picket line (March 15, 2022)

VIRL postpones Sooke Library grand opening due to librarian strike (March 13, 2022)

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