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Library Workers vote to Strike!

JY Hodge

March 1, 2012

After much stalling and foot-dragging by the employer, Toronto Public Library workers voted in favour of strike action in late February. On the heels of a 91 per cent strike mandate, CUPE 4948 filed for a ‘no board’ report with the Ministry of Labour that, if approved, will set a strike deadline of March 17th. Both sides continue to bargain.

In the wake of the settlement with city outside workers in CUPE 416, the city management is seeking similar deals from all other city unions; deals that would severely weaken job security and scheduling rights secured over 15 years of bargained agreements. Unlike 416 however (which opted not to vote for strike action and so negotiated from a weaker position), library workers have expressed very loudly and clearly that we are not interested in concessions for the sake of concessions. The library is a substantially different work environment to many city departments, and the language of the library contract has always reflected that.

With a simpleton ideologue in the mayor’s chair, and one in desperate need of a victory after losing his own budget vote and then suffering an insurrection of public transit, one wonders if he will pick a fight with the city library workers. After last summer’s effective campaign (, prudence would dictate that Ford look to other, less well-organized and loved targets. Prudence however, was never something Ford could be accused of, so it will come as no surprise if we are in fact on the streets come spring.

If strike action does come to pass, librarians in Toronto enjoy broad public support, something the mayor is sorely lacking. Library administration similarly would likely rather avoid an unsightly work stoppage, one in which they could very easily come out of with egg on their faces, and a more militant workforce to manage as well.

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