Press Release – Sick pay

Veteran librarians and workers at Vancouver Public Library lose their sick pay starting today after management slashes budget, dramatically reduces hours of work; some have 35 years of service

VANCOUVER – Nearly a dozen veteran librarians and library workers will lose their access to sick leave starting today because the Vancouver Public Library has slashed its budget and dramatically reduced their hours of work, their union says.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 391 says 11 librarians, library technicians and information assistants have had their work reduced to less than 20 hours per week, meaning they no longer qualify for sick pay.

And CUPE 391 President Alexandra Youngberg says some of those librarians and other workers have been Vancouver Public Library staff members for over 35 years.

“It’s terrible that Vancouver Public Library management would mistreat librarians who have devoted their entire careers to serving readers and our city this way – to cut off their sick pay as well as reduce their work to less than half of full-time hours,” said Youngberg.

“These women are the backbone of the Vancouver Public Library and they are being completely disrespected despite years of hard work – it’s appalling,” said Youngberg.

$500,000 has been chopped out of the Vancouver Public Library budget effective May 1 – meaning hundreds of frontline service hours assisting the public will be lost, Youngberg said.

CUPE 391 is filing a policy grievance against the Vancouver Public Library for violating the workers’ collective agreement by taking away sick time they had banked prior to losing their hours of work, she added.

Library workers are further angered that VPL management hired senior lawyer Kim Thorne of Roper Greyell at several hundred dollars an hour to conduct bargaining while veteran staff are losing sick pay and library users facing service cuts, Youngberg says.

“There is a serious disconnect when Vancouver Public Library management believe hiring a high-priced lawyer is a good use of taxpayers dollars, when this money could be used to maintain quality reference services at the Central Library,” Youngberg said.

For more information: Alexandra Youngberg – CUPE Local 391 –cell 604-908-6095 or work 604-322-4879