Powell River Library Workers Turn to Mediation amid Strike Efforts
The Powell River Public Library and its staff will head to mediation. This effort comes after the library workers voted to strike during their recent meeting.
The two sides have been in negotiations for just about a year trying to hammer out a new collective agreement. The old agreement expired in December 2017. The decision to strike came after the two parties reached yet another impasse in their negotiations in February.
According to library workers union president Graham Tonks, "By tabling a final offer and refusing to consider either of our counter proposal options, the Library has told us that they are done talking. We are taking this action because we simply cannot accept the employer's 'take it or leave it' attitude towards the legitimate matters still outstanding."
The main sticking point for the two sides is pay equity. The library workers want their pay to be equivalent to that of other municipally funded workers. They called their pay “historically low and unequal” compared to people working for the City of Powell River. They also pointed out that their wages with the local library are far less than other library employees' wages in other nearby small communities.
Just after the library employees announced their strike, the union began the paperwork to proceed with mediation. According to Tonks, "We are applying for mediation because we remain hopeful that the parties can reach a fair settlement, even if it takes some assistance to get there. We would only interrupt library users' access to the services they count on if we felt that there was no other option."