Monday March 7, 2022 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The first picket by librarians in Local 702 will be on Wednesday March 9, says BCGEU today.
“No changes since Friday. The union is still awaiting a response from the employer to our counter offer, and so is proceeding with job action plans as announced on Friday,” said BCGEU in a statement to Island Social Trends today.
Despite a few tries already, progress at the negotiation table has been minimal. VIRL says they have offered more on the monetary side as well as “numerous non-monetary provisions recently bargained”. BCGEU keeps saying the work of the librarians is being disrespected.
Between employer and the union:
Last week the BCGEU librarians said they had, through the pandemic, undertaken a lot of work that rightfully or normally would have been done by personnel in government or MLA’s offices. That included helping library patrons fill out complex application forms, such as for CERB and CEWS (by which successful applicants would have made financial gain).
In a response to Island Social Trends from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction on March 2, it was stated that “the government supports the collective bargaining process”, and that of course the matter is “between the employer, Vancouver Island Regional Library, and the union.”
“We encourage both sides to get back to discussions at the bargaining table — that’s where solutions and a fair deal will be found,” the Ministry stated. The Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is Nicholas Simons.
Local ministry offices & MLA offices during the pandemic:
“Libraries are an important resource in our communities,” it was stated by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction last week.
“The Ministry appreciates and recognizes the role that regional libraries played during the worst of the pandemic by continuing to provide safe access to public computers to those people who were unable to go to local ministry offices (which did remain open during the pandemic with safety protocols in place) or otherwise access services online.”
Many MLA’s constituency offices were not open to the public during much of the pandemic (including Hon John Horgan’s and MLA Mitzi Dean’s in the west shore), but staff in those offices generally were available by phone and email to help constituents with the usual range of constituency services.
- September 2021: VIRL and BCGEU had been bargaining the expired BCGEU Collective Agreement (January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2020) since September, 2021.
- On Tuesday, February 22, BCGEU notified VIRL that its members had voted 95% in favour of a strike mandate.
- On February 25, BCGEU filed 72-hour strike notice.
- On Monday, February 28, 2022, VIRL’s Executive Committee provided guidance to VIRL management on a renewed bargaining mandate. The assigned Labour Relations Board mediator was re-engaged soon thereafter.
- On March 01, VIRL offered a new proposal through the assigned Labour Relations Board mediator.
- March 2 at 8 am: Local 702 librarians could legally commence job action.
- March 3: VIRL learned that members of the British Columbia General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) Local 702 at Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) had rejected the employer’s March 01, 2022 proposal.
- On March 3, librarians in Local 702 wrote a group letter to all trustees of the VIRL board [see letter – PDF].
- March 4: BCGEU said librarians working in VIRL would begin escalated job action starting Wednesday March 9 “should they not receive a serious offer from the employer”.
- March 7: BCGEU confirms that job action will commence March 9.
Contacting your municipal rep:
Local 702 Chair Joanna Lord says that people can support their community librarians by letting their municipal or regional elected rep on the VIRL Board know that “librarians deserve respect, a safe workplace and a fair agreement”.
- For Sooke the rep is District of Sooke Councillor Jeff Bateman.
- For Juan de Fuca (west of Sooke, and also East Sooke) the rep is CRD Regional Director Mike Hicks.
- For the Town of Sidney the rep is Peter Wainwright.
- For the Cowichan Valley Regional District the rep is Mike Wilson.
- VIRL board members are from communities around Vancouver Island, from parts of Greater Victoria to Port Hardy including the Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii and Bella Coola.
- See all VIRL board member info.
===== VIRL links:
- VIRL library branches are in municipalities and communities on Vancouver Island, outside the Greater Victoria area.
- VIRL’s updates on the strike situation will be posted on their website at https://virl.bc.ca/updates/
===== RELATED ARTICLES:
VIRL offer not fair or respectful says BCGEU (March 3, 2022)
VIRL & BCGEU librarians back to the table (March 2, 2022)
Vancouver Island librarians ‘learned their worth’ during COVID (March 1, 2022)
Vancouver Island librarians going on strike (February 28, 2022)