This is our first strike, so most of us don’t have much first-hand experience with this whole job action business. From what I’d seen of other strikes up till now (sad, discouraged, even bitter, picketers–and for good reason!), I would have expected that we would be pretty down after this long on the picket lines. But we have Grandeur on Georgia, the Bike Strike Brigade, Knitting in Solidarity, and so many other good things going on that anyone watching us would almost think we’re having a good time. Yes, we would much rather be back at work and I’m sure we can agree we never want to do this again, but we are used to being positive, looking positive, and putting our skills and ideas to good use, and although our circumstances are different now, we aren’t.
Take the benefit concert on Saturday. Some of Vancouver’s very best–and my favourite–musicians and bands played to help raise money for our Hardship fund, and many more people and organisations made generous contributions. The beer flowed, the room was full of beautiful and remarkably happy people, and–most important of all–we raised around $5300 for the cause. That’s amazing! Around 550-600 people attended (and donated), and I’ve also heard stories about folks who made donations–sometimes quite substantial–and didn’t even come in. (They missed a great show, but we’re grateful for the support!)
Thank you to our own Doug Andrew (Circus in Flames) and Nen Jelicic (of Eldorado) for the idea and putting the whole thing together. Thank you to Swank, Circus in Flames, Eldorado, and Ross Bliss’s band for playing (and so well), and to Aili Meutzner for spinning discs (as well as working the door). Thank you to Brian from the Circus in Flames for many hours’ work and bringing the PA, Phil from Swank for supplying the monitors, to the Board of Trustees of the Maritime Labour Cenre for donating the use of the hall, and to 1004 for closing the place for us. Thank you to Ian Hughes for the fabulous poster, and Famous Empty Sky, and to the hardship committee (Angela Ho, Inder Pannu, Craig Searle), and the good people who worked the door and bar (Alexis Greenwood, Dawn Ibey, Elektra Harris). And to the Vancouver District Labour Council, CUPE BC, and the BC Federation of Labour who sent out the poster (and have done so much else as well). Thank you to the other locals in the Lower Mainland who are continuing to support us. *And* to all of you CUPE 391 members who continue to fight the good fight with spirit and compassion. (Apologies to everyone whose names we’ve missed–please let me or someone on the executive know and we will make additions and corrections!)
Back on the line–a little of what’s going on
Today was my first day back at Britannia after a week with my family and–believe it or not–it was really good to see everyone again out on the line. This morning a supporter from the nearby elementary school brought by a basket of beautiful apples. Our brothers and sisters who are teachers remember all too well how much it helps to get this kind of encouragement!
Things are definitely more interesting at Britannia (and other shared VSB/VPL sites) these days. Now that school has started again, our picket lines are no longer just symbolic–we really are ensuring that the doors to these libraries remain closed until our strike is settled. This means making sure we have coverage from 8-4, in the case of Britannia, since as soon as the picket line is down other workers may be forced to open the facilities. Thank you to the volunteers from Kerrisdale who came over today to help out!
There’s also a new contest, this time for a slogan to be printed on tee-shirts that will distributed to members and available for purchase by the public. Entry forms are available at all picket locations–pass them along to your picket captain or drop into the suggestion box if you’re at Central.
And this afternoon Alex came by Britannia to talk a little about the bargaining process. As you know, one of our key issues is around pay equity. This issue goes far beyond our own concerns in Vancouver. To quote just one library guru, former CLA and SLA president, Stephen Abram, one of librarians’ highest priorities has to be “narrowing the gender gap in salaries” and working towards pay equity legislation. (See the article “Pushing the Pay Envelope,” originally published in 1999, reprinted in Out Front with Stephen Abram: A Guide for Information Leaders, 2007.)
A couple of special offers to our members:
On behalf of the Wellness Committee, Lis wants everyone to know about an opportunity to take an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course with Adrianne Ross, beginning September 19th. Classes will be held Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7:30, at 401 West Georgia Street. The fee is usually $300, but the cost is only $100 for the un/underemployed (including striking workers). (Our members may also be eligible for “wellness loans” from the Wellness Committee.) To register, please contact Lynn Thorsell by Thursday September 13th to lhorsell@firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 604 255-9083.
Our members are also eligible for free admission to the 9/11 Hero Speaks Out event Sunday September 16th at the Maritime Labour Centre, starting at 7:30. For more information see the website.
See you tomorrow!