Saturday March 26, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Updated March 29, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Editor’s Note: We’re tracking the VIRL/BCGEU labour negotations 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.
On a nice spring Saturday, people might think to visit their local library.
Well now that’s tougher than ever, as picket lines are now blocking library patrons from 10 branches of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL): Lake Cowichan, Nanaimo North, Nanaimo Harbourfront, Creativity Commons, Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach, Port McNeill, Courtenay, Cowichan, and Sooke.
An official grand opening of the Sooke branch — which was to be held today — has been postponed.
On Thursday and Friday five branches were being picketed by BCGEU Local 702 librarians. CUPE library workers have joined in at some locations.
Four-year proposal rejected by union:
Today VIRL says they offered a four-year proposal to the librarians “within the BCGEU-specified range”. VIRL says there was “reasonable expectation that an agreement would be achieved”.
“Instead, BCGEU rejected the proposal, escalated its service-impacting strike, and is now seeking an unspecific increase,” said VIRL Director of Corporate Communications, David Carson.
VIRL is now encouraging BCGEU to suspend its service-impacting strike and reconsider their March 22 proposal.
“The proposal exceeds historically negotiated adjustments, meets BCGEU’s stated expectation, and spares communities and residents from new taxes,” says Carson. He adds: “The offer still stands.”
It does seem now that what was becoming a quagmire of back-and-forth is now opportunistic by the union to get more publicity or public sympathy, but it’s possible that limit has been achieved.
Resolution at the bargaining table:
“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.
“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 back on March 22.
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.
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 March 22, VIRL had received general correspondence from the public pertaining to the strike.
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.
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).
VIRL generally posts the strike locations for the information of their patrons, usually saying that other branches will not be impacted on those days.
VIRL strike updates | VIRL news releases | BCGEU news updates
===== 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 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)
VIRL offer to Local 702 librarians includes non-monetary provisions (March 4, 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)