CUPE 391 Represented at City Council 2019 Budget Meeting

CUPE 391 Represented at City Council 2019 Budget Meeting


President Aliza Nevarie spoke to Vancouver City Council on behalf of CUPE 391. Here are the speaking notes. 

The most fundamental way to demonstrate the value of a service, and the people who provide that service, is how it is funded.

Vancouver Public Library is the highest rated City Service in terms of satisfaction.

The members of CUPE Local 391, whom I represent today, serve communities that are growing in size and complexity every year.   We are proud of what we are able to achieve with what we have.  We foster arts and culture, and give new immigrants a head start.  We provide a space for people to connect and learn.  We help caregivers bond with children through stories.  Our citizens find in our collections themselves, reflected and affirmed.

We have a role in the reduction of poverty and the effects of poverty, by providing free access to resources and needed services; bridging the digital divide as more and more social services are downloaded to online forms, and become harder to access in traditional ways.

We provide free spaces, which, through the careful and artful management by our members, are safe and welcoming to everyone.  Inevitably, and necessarily, we also have an important part to play in harm reduction in our most at risk neighbourhoods.

Unfortunately, our funding hasn’t reflected the growth of our City.   Since 2012, our staffing levels have remained the same, despite the addition of new spaces, new services and programs, and new important initiatives.  Our members are feeling the pressure in workload as staff compliments in our branches are reduced, to address other areas of need.

In addition, over half our members are precarious workers, meaning they are temporary, part-time and/or auxiliary.  The insecurity of work means some of our member face poverty themselves, and the impacts of the housing crisis.  More fulltime and predictable work, with access to benefits, is critical to a healthy and sustainable workforce.  Along with the living wage and equal pay for work of equal value, improvements like these would improved quality and allow full participation in our city and what it has to offer.

We can improve and support our role in harm reduction by providing additional staffing budget in high-risk branches, like nə́caʔmat ct Strathcona.  In the first 5 months of 2018, there were 210 reported security incidences at this branch alone.   Proper staffing levels would ensure efficient and effective responses when faced with possible overdoses.

We can also bring our security staff in house, rather than contracted out as they currently are.  Ray-Cam and Carnegie Community Centres serve as examples of how in-house security helps build relationships and trust in the community, and ensures safe environments for public and staff.   Our libraries and communities would greatly benefit from this.

We appreciate that the proposed budget for the Library in 2019 means no direct cuts, and provides for a dedicated OH&S officer to support a safe and healthy workplace. However, every budget, which doesn’t provide growth that reflects the expansion of our city and our critical expanding role in it’s intellectual, cultural, and physical health, effectively means we are trying to do more, with less.

Funding the library from a workers perspective means healthy and safe working conditions, equitable and inclusive workplaces, where the work we do is valued and respected, as well as the people who are doing the work, and delivering the services.   We ask you to consider this as you deliberate on the current, and future budgets.

Thank you for your time.

Councillors followed up with Aliza on Pay Equity, Naloxone, Opioid use, security staffing and percentage of 391 members who reside in the City of Vancouver.