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Library Workers Go On Strike

Earlier this evening, the Toronto Public Library workers’ union, CUPE Local 4948, announced that it would be going on strike, effective immediately. This comes after months of negotiations, including last-minute talks that went late into last night and lasted until 5 p.m. today. In a press release, the union said that a key bone of contention is job security. Job quality is also a known issue: the union’s leadership has long been critical of TPL’s dependence on part-time workers.

Toronto Public Library is saying that all branches and book drops will be closed during the labour disruption. All library events will be canceled, and anyone who rented a room in a branch will have their money refunded. No fines will be charged on overdue materials until the union returns to work. Most of TPL’s web services are expected to remain available for the duration.


  • Grant Patten

    i’m all for unions. gotta stand up to the man somehow, when necessary. but is it really necessary here? if the jobs are suited to part-time employees, then they should go to part-time employees. somebody explain to me why these jobs are inappropriate for part-timers

    • Margarets

      My guess: the part-time thing works great for library management, but it’s lousy for the workers. It’s hard to cobble together a living from 2 or 3 part-time jobs, which is evidently what most PT library workers do. The PT jobs aren’t held by students and the like (I’m not sure why) but by people who want and need full-time jobs.

    • Anonymous

      Didn’t you read their pamphlet? Part-time workers are “precarious”! You don’t want precarious people handling your book borrowing needs, do you?

      • Margarets

        It’s not a joke.

    • Lisa

      What Margarets said, plus I think one of the things that librarians do well, or should be able to do well, is get to know the people in their communities who use the library – the kids, the old folks, the job seekers, etc…. part-timers don’t get to know the patrons in the same way and are often shuffled around from one library to another. So those ties (which are really important for fostering literacy and getting the right book/source into the right hands) are broken. If you take a look at this My Favorite Librarian page, you really realize how important a personal connection is with a librarian. And I think that’s started to go missing at TPL. (disclaimer, I’m a librarian, although I don’t work in the public library.)

  • kay

    part-time workers aren’t entitled to benefits either. those are usually reserved for full-time personnel.

    if you’ve ever injured yourself on while working a part-time job (due to heavy lifting or repetitive work strain/carpal tunnel), you’ll realize that management doesn’t take kindly to that.

  • Charles Melvin

    Looks like the Toronto Public Library just hitched their bookmobiles to Rob Ford’s “gravy train.”

  • Stan

    one of the other issues is that Management had also proposed to make Sunday a ‘regular’ work day (and the hours are typically from 1:30 to 5pm). I wouldn’t want to be hauling my ass just to work a couple of hours.

    • DeepTan

      Sounds like what’s happening over at 311 Toronto, where my wife just quit. Due to the 24/7 nature of the department, the part-time staff there basically holds that operation together. However, they are treated like garbage by mgmt and are made to beg for shifts that are typically 4 hours long (or less). Funny thing is, all the absenteeism you hear about from 311 was by the full-timers. And you know something, the part-timers at the library are getting the very same raw deal. I stand with the library workers.