This week on the Library Square picket line… when I'm 64!

This week on the Library Square picket line… when I'm 64!

“When I get older… when I'm 64” – Chris and me waving to the cars on Georgia St.

I played Beatles songs on my accordion on Tuesday.  This was to celebrated Day 64 on the CUPE 391 Library workers picket line.  Music is a great way to lighten the mood, and engage the public.  I receive so many smiles from passers by, and so many thank yous from my fellow picketers.

On Wednesday evening, my friend Monica and I were sitting at the CUPE 391 information booth at the corner of Homer and Georgia when we noticed all the people wearing Canucks had an exhibition hockey game down the street at GM Place.  Monica hadn't brought her violin – but I had my accordion.  I quickly grabbed it and played the tunes associated with organists at hockey rink arenas.  I played snippets of Hungarian Dance #5, Scott Joplin's The Entertainer, and the tango La Cumparsita… I even played Entry of the Gladiators – normally associated with circus music.  We asked people to sign our petition, as we also offered free hockey trivia – making note that many reference questions are for sports trivia at the information desk.  We even had a family from Nevada sign the petition.  He used to be a librarian in Vancouver.

At one point a car stopped, and out popped Andrea Reimer, one of my new friends this year.  Andrea signed our petition and posed for a photograph.  Back in May, Andrea gave a talk for our VPL staff conference.  I also know her through other community contacts.  She is executive director of the Western Wilderness Committee.  I first met her back in 2002, when I helped organize Asian Heritage Month presentations to the Vancouver School Board, when she was the Green Party's first elected member at the Vancouver School Board. 

On Thursday night, I set up my accordion across from the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.  It was the opening season of Ballet BC, and they were presenting Giselle.  Sitting across from the Centre, the sound bounces very nicely, especially if I play something like Tocatta in D Minor by Bach.  I decided to open up my repertoire of classical pieces including Tchaikovsky's Neopolitan Song from the Nutcracker Ballet, Espana by Wautefel,  and a medley of Strauss waltzes.  We had lots of smiles from people passing by

Today is Day 68 of the CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers strike.  We have been without a contract for 271 days…  since December 16, 2006.  While our union proposed a contract to our employer back in December, we did not receive an official offer from them until two weeks into the strike.  This was after constant stonewalling, and refusal to address employee concerns and issues.  Please see the CUPE 391 website for
more information on our issues such as pay equity, improvements for
part-time and auxiliary workers, improved language for job security,
improvements for health benefits.

Thankfully, both sides have now moved to mediation with Brian Foley, which will be non-binding.  It is similar to what he has already worked with for CUPE 15 and 1004 Vancouver City inside and outside workers.  It was back on August 1st when the Vancouver civic strike had gone into its 2nd week, that city councillor Raymond Louie called for mediation to solve the strike issues.  7 1/2 weeks later mediation with Brian Foley  finally became a reality for CUPE 15 and 1004, while CUPE 391 Library Workers went into consultation with Debra Cameron.  Foley has now taken over CUPE 391 negotiations because Cameron was not further available due to time constraints.

This weekend is also Vancouver's The Word On The Street – Book & Magazine Festival.  It traditionally takes place at Library Square, and on the adjoining streets of Hamilton and Homer St.  But this year the CBC Plaza is under construction and pickets are up at Library Square.  Our union felt that it was integral to maintain our picket lines.  It is also unfortunate that picket lines have affected Vancouver arts and cultural communities and festivals, as many events have been forced out of the Orpheum Theatre, Roundhouse and False Creek Community Centres.  Hopefully the City management will soon see the terrible toll this strike is impacting on our city, and work towards a constructive resolution.

The Library Workers will be holding a parallel event titled Word on the Strike.  Information booths, displays, puppet shows, music performances, readings and theatre skits will be set up on the picket lines to help inform the public about the Vancouver civic strike.  All the creative things that we do to inspire the Globe and Mail news story titled Library workers picket with pizzazz.  It should all combine to be one very interesting day on the picket line.

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