Tuesday April 12, 2022 | NANAIMO, BC [Negotiations timeline updated April 22, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
After a month of escalating job action, the unionized librarians with BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) Local 702 who work in the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) system are not on the picket lines today.
Today April 12, BCGEU says members working as VIRL librarians have reached a tentative agreement with their employer and, as a result, are pausing job action.
Rotating picket lines at various VIRL branches around the island have caused disruption to other workers and the public users of libraries, as well as the employer. Whenever there were picket lines, impacted library branches were closed.
“Following meetings to discuss the terms of the tentative agreement, BCGEU members will conduct a ratification vote in the coming days,” says BEGEU today.
“We’re pleased that VIRL’s management has chosen to re-engage negotiations, and to have received a fair wage proposal that is worthy of bringing back to the membership,” said Laura Kaminker, VIRL librarian and bargaining committee chair. “Until the vote is counted, librarians will be back at work and not on the picket line.”
VIRL board meeting discussion:
At their April 9, 2022 VIRL board meeting directors had a “productive discussion” about the ongoing strike, including, no doubt, the impact on library users. VIRL would have had to consider how far to raise librarian wages, as the demand from BCGEU Local 702 was aiming to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
On Saturday VIRL said the organization was re-engaging the assigned Labour Relations Board mediator in hopes of ending the ongoing impasse and labour disruption impacting VIRL branches and communities.
“I know I speak for my fellow Trustees when I say we care deeply about all VIRL employees,” says Gaby Wickstrom, Chair of the VIRL Board of Trustees.
“We are grateful for staff’s tireless commitment through the pandemic, and the many challenges they face in their service to the public,” says Wickstrom.
Last month the librarians in BCGEU Local 702 had been saying they felt under-appreciated during the additional load that the pandemic brought on.
Union appreciated public support:
“We’re grateful for all the support we’ve received so far – from our communities, our CUPE colleagues, labour supporters from around the region, and even board members,” said BCGEU in a statement today.
“We’re hopeful this offer resolves our issues, and that the final collective agreement leads to a respectful and psychologically, physically safe workplace for these dedicated community-serving librarians.”
BCGEU Local 702 Librarian Strike timeline:
BCGEU issued strike notice on February 25 and picketing began on March 8 at rotating locations. Since then, the strike has escalated with all BCGEU members now on strike and multiple locations impacted daily.
Starting March 8 through 15, picket lines were held outside VIRL library branches, one day at at time, including: 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.
On 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.
- Thursday April 7: (to come)
- Friday April 8: Quadra Island, Sidney/North Saanich, Nanaimo Harbourfront and Creativity Commons, Nanaimo North, and Nanaimo Wellington.
- Saturday April 9: Cumberland, Cowichan Lake, Nanaimo Harbourfront and Creativity Commons, Nanaimo North, and Nanaimo Wellington.
- Sunday April 10: No scheduled pickets. Branches are open per regular Sunday hours.
- Monday April 11: Campbell River, Cowichan, Nanaimo Harbourfront and Creativity Commons, Nanaimo North, and Nanaimo Wellington.
- Tuesday April 12. No picket lines.
- April 19: agreement ratified by BCGEU.
- April 20: agreement ratified by VIRL.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering the long saga of the new Sooke Library development since 2009, and more broadly the news of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL).
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:
VIRL hopes to end librarian strike impasse (April 9, 2022)
Vancouver Island librarians continue their strike (April 7, 2022)
BCGEU librarians start the week with moderate job action (March 29, with updates to April 6, 2022)
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)