Library closure was lockout, not strike

Librarians weren't cause of 6-week lockout

Re: The value of unions is waning (Comment, June 17)

There are serious inaccuracies in Erin Cardone’s article in regards to the library workers’ strike in 2008. Yes, workers at the Greater Victoria Public Library went on strike briefly in the fall of 2007, but not simply because they wanted better pay and it had nothing to do with wanting shorter work hours. The majority of workers at the library are women and, as a result, have been historically under-valued and underpaid. For Cardone’s information, pay equity is equal pay for work of equal value, and it is a human right as affirmed by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In 1992 the library and its workers reached an agreement to compare jobs at the library to equivalent jobs at the City of Victoria for the purposes of job evaluation and pay equity. In 2007, 15 years later, pay equity for library workers had still not been achieved, and the bargaining agent for the library reneged on its outstanding promise and refused to honour its commitment to ending wage discrimination. That was the catalyst for the strike. And it was not the library workers who “locked people out of libraries for six weeks” in the spring of 2008.  It was the library that locked out its workers and closed library doors.

The library and its workers did reach a settlement that year, which included terms for the finalization of pay equity.  Amicable relations have always prevailed between the library and its workers, even during the labour dispute. The strike was the first in the library’s more than 100-year history and it certainly was not undertaken frivolously.

It seems to me that it is not the value of unions that is waning, but the accuracy of certain reporters.

Holman Louis

vice-president, CUPE Local 410

(Greater Victoria Public Library staff)