Tuesday March 29, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Updated March 30 to April 6 with current strike locations]
Editor’s Note: We’re tracking the VIRL/BCGEU labour negotiations because many unions will soon be leaning to strike deals that meet the cost of living and possibly also keep up with surging inflation. Increased wages in many sectors will push up the cost of everything.
UPDATE at 7 pm March 29: As of 7 pm Wednesday March 30, all BCGEU members working as VIRL employees will be on strike. In-person and virtual services at all VIRL branches will be affected. “Some branches will be behind picket lines, other branches will be operating but will not have librarians available,” says BCGEU.
This past weekend, people might have thought to visit their local Vancouver Island Regional Library branch. But at 10 branches there were picket lines, in an escalated statement of job action by the BCGEU Local 702 librarians.
They made their point, and are now back to moderate job action at one branch per day. Yesterday that was at Nanaimo North and today at the Cowichan branch (in Duncan).
Where things are at:
On March 28 VIRL said they had offered a four-year proposal to the librarians, saying it was “within the BCGEU-specified range”. VIRL said there was “reasonable expectation that an agreement would be achieved”.
Later in the day, BCGEU told Island Social Trends that the VIRL offer was “more than the employer’s previous offers but less than our wage ask”. BCGEU said that the latest VIRL offer “did not align our members’ wages of librarians in comparable regional library systems in BC”.
The BCGEU wage ask is “modest compared to the increasing cost of living, reasonsable given the wage increases the Board approved for VIRL’s non-unionized senior management positions, and affordable — it will not require any additional tax dollars”, says BCGEU.
As of yesterday, VIRL was encouraging BCGEU to suspend its service-impacting strike and reconsider their March 22 proposal.
Strikes went back to one-branch per day yesterday, and again today, “to minimize impact on our CUPE colleagues and library users”, said a BCGEU rep.
Possibly escalation again on March 30:
“If we don’t receive a fair and respectful offer by Tuesday end of day, job action will escalate on Wednesday,” stated BCGEU on Monday evening.
Last night BCGEU told Island Social Trends that “no talks are yet planned but we are hopeful that the VIRL board — responsible for VIRL’s finances and accountable to library users — will authorize the employer to meet our wage ask”, adding: “We will pause job action as soon as we receive a fair and respectful offer.”
VIRL budget works with municipal taxes:
“The proposal exceeds historically negotiated adjustments, meets BCGEU’s stated expectation, and spares communities and residents from new taxes,” said VIRL Director of Corporate Communications, David Carson yesterday.
He adds: “The offer still stands.”
Getting to the next step:
What was becoming a quagmire of back-and-forth did seem to achieve public attention if not sympathy.
“We respect our members’ right to picket and remain hopeful that a mutually agreeable resolution will be found soon,” said Carson in the past week.
Both sides still seem set on negotiating.
“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 March 22.
To start, four picket lines were held outside VIRL library branches, one day at at time: Duncan, Chemanius, Ladysmith and Sidney/North Saanich. Then:
VIRL generally posts the strike locations for the information of their patrons, usually saying that other branches will not be impacted on those days.
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.
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.
- 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.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
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 .
===== RELATED ARTICLES by ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
BCGEU pushing the VIRL envelope with 10 picket lines (March 26, 2022, with updates March 28 & 29, 2022)
BCGEU librarians reject latest VIRL offer & escalate strikes (March 24 & 25, 2022)
VIRL receives librarian counter-proposal (March 22, 2022)
Strike Day 16: picketing at Sooke Library (March 18, 2022)
VIRL hopes for counter-proposal soon (March 15, 2022)
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)
Vancouver Island librarians going on strike (February 28, 2022)
New Sooke Library set to open after Family Day 2022 (February 10, 2022)
New VIRL executive director now 4-months-in (January 2, 2022)
Sooke Library now open for computer use, DVDs, takeout, reference (November 18, 2020)
Sooke Library construction gets underway mid-October (October 19, 2020)
Survey about new Sooke Library open to Nov 30 (October 8, 2020)
New day for Sooke: library construction to begin (September 22, 2020)
Sooke Library programs in January 2020 (January 1, 2020)
Sooke Library development dealing with permit hurdle (June 15, 2019)