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Library workers defend services

JY Hodge

February 13, 2012

The 2,400 members of CUPE local 4948, workers at the Toronto Public Library (TPL), have been prepping for job action in recent weeks in spite of broad public support for libraries and the budget defeat for Mayor Rob Ford.

The library has seen its workforce shrink by over 15 per cent since city amalgamation 12 years ago. Additionally, the TPL board approved an operating budget in December 2011 that calls for a 5.9 per cent reduction—which will mean another 107 full-time (or equivalent) positions will be lost.

Combined with the aforementioned shrinkage, that amounts to the single largest workforce reduction of any city department in the last decade.

In spite of such attacks, the library enjoys record usage and an expanding system, including plans to build (and presumably staff) two new branches over the next four years.

Library workers are not sitting idle. The public relations and pressure campaign that worked so effectively in staving off worse attacks is being re-energized and members are engaging in strike training. CUPE 4948 is prepared for a work stoppage should the employer force one.

In the current climate with the Mayor’s popularity at record lows, this should give the city pause in its hell-bent efforts to smash hard-won job security and scheduling provisions. and to attack the city services on which so many residents rely.

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