Although the Union has been waging an 8 month struggle with Management against the idea of Shelvers being able to pull the request pull list (RPL) as a new job duty, we have been unable to convince Management that this is a duty that should rightfully remain an LA2 duty exclusively.
We have grieved it of course and our reasoning denied repeatedly, and are continuing to look at classification arguments to prove that pulling RPL is not the same kettle of fish as shelving.
For now this newly added duty for Shelvers who now share this ability with LA2s is being imposed on the membership by Management – the Union is against this and always will be unless Shelvers are paid more in return..
Although Shelvers are given a new task that adds variety to their work and may appear to be a flexible option, LA2s have always been paid higher than the former LA1 classification and the Management imposed Shelver classification because of a variety of more complex tasks including the pulling of the request pull list.
Pulling RPL can have complications which require Horizon access to deal with – an LA2 duty.
So if a Shelver pulls holds and encounters complications they will still have to run to an LA2 to finish the job – so why have 2 people do what 1 person does already?
Shelvers which represent the lowest classification in terms of pay, but certainly not the lowest in terms of importance of work, are now being asked if necessary, to do another higher level job duty without paying them more – how is this good for Shelvers and the membership as a whole when one classification gets to do something different but only at a cost of taking away work exclusively done by another higher paid classification LA2s?
Just hire more LA2s or bump up more Shelvers to LA2s, if pulling RPL is such an issue, but racing to the bottom again in terms of blurring the distinction between classifications and pay rates for the sake of believed “efficiency” and “flexibility” is not the way to go.
I realize as President that morale will suffer as a result of RPL being pulled by Shelvers and not exclusively LA2s.
I have received many angry emails, phone calls and met some staff face to face and heard their anger and passion on this issue from both Shelvers and LA2s.
But when the Union makes a stand on this issue it’s not just for Shelvers and LA2s – it’s really on behalf of everybody in our Union.
We don’t want to see Librarian duties fall to Lib techs and we don’t want Lib tech duties to fall to clericals without pay rates reflecting newly imposed or changed duties – its just common sense.
The same is true for all other staff – even probably for exempt staff.
We aren’t resisting change – we are resisting classification lines being blurred and not adequately compensated for evolving duties.
We all know and are thankful for the jobs we do have and the pay we get in order to survive in the most expensive city in Canada – but Shelvers should be LA1s and paid as such, and LA2s should not have to give up control of a duty because there aren’t enough LA2s around.
I really don’t care if other library systems have been forced to embrace this idea of having increasingly higher paid work falling to lower paid Shelvers or Pages, or any classification’s work fall to a lower classification (in fact don’t ask me just ask their front line staff and I assure you they hate it too) – if you want excellent service, and not disenfranchised underclasses doing more and more for the same – than a library has to pay for that and if necessary hold back on some big ticket ideas in exchange for a manageable growth rate and satisfied workforce.
President, CUPE 391
Vancouver, Gibsons & Sechelt Public Library Workers