Home Organizations & Associations Vancouver Island Library Board Vancouver Island librarians going on strike

Vancouver Island librarians going on strike

Expect service interruptions starting March 3, 2022

Monday February 28, 2022 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC [Last update 8:10 pm March 1, 2022]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


Picketing at Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) branches is likely to start on Thursday March 3 (at 8 am), with customer service impacts.

That was revealed this morning at 9:20 am by the VIRL board (updated at 11:30 am), giving their customers and patrons some advance notice of likely service interruptions.

sooke library, feb 2022
The new Sooke Library construction was near completion in Feb 2022. [VIRL]

Apparently, the BCGEU told VIRL that 95% of Local 702 members — that’s 42 professional librarians at 20 of 39 library branches, voted to strike.

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As well, 401 CUPE permanent employees in the VIRL workforce will reportedly honour the picket lines.

VIRL budget:

Of their $31 million annual budget, VIRL spends 65% on wages and benefits. Of the full operating budget, 95% are fixed costs. There’s not a lot of wiggle room.

Now in their 86th year, VIRL says it provides “critical and accountable services and resources to communities throughout the region”.

Local libraries:

In the west shore region, the Sooke Library is served by VIRL. Libraries in Colwood and Langford are served by the Greater Victoria Public Library system.

Just last month the Sooke Library finally initiated it shift from a leased space on Anna Marie Road over to their brand new VIRL-funded building on Wadams Way.

Reasons for the strike action:

Reasons for the strike action could be focussed on wage levels. COVID-related vaccine mandates could possibly have something to do with the strike action.

Meanwhile, David Carson, VIRL Director of Corporate Communications and Strategic Initiatives, says: “While the specific reasons for the strike have yet to be confirmed, the two sides reached an impasse on the subject of wages. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

stephanie smith, bcgeu, president
BCGEU President Stephanie Smith

And BCGEU President Stephanie Smith told Island Social Trends on March 1 that staff have been feeling undervalued during the overload of work expectations during the pandemic.

Timeline:

The collective agreement between the VIRL and BC General Employees’ Union Local 702 expired on December 31, 2020 and the two sides have been bargaining since September 2021.

VIRL says that they received notice on July 7, 2021 from the Union to commence bargaining, which began on September 24, 2021.

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===== RELATED:

Vancouver Island librarians ‘learned their worth’ says BCGEU (March 1, 2022)

New VIRL executive director now 4-months-in (Jan 2, 2022)

VIRL operational vaccination policy kicks in Feb 11 (Jan 2, 2022)