Pay equity issues in the media + writer Tom Sandborn coming to speak to Library Workers

Pay equity issues in the media + writer Tom Sandborn coming to speak to Library Workers

Ugh… it's back to the picket lines today… after my blissful little dragon boat racing and cultural visit to Victoria.  More about my visits to Emily Carr House, Craigdarroch Castle and Victoria Chinatown tomorrow…

Today, we have a visit from writer Tom Sandborn to come speak to library workers at Library Square.  I have met Tom on various occasions, and after last week's visit by author Terry Glavin, Tom was recommended by former Vancouver city councillor Fred Bass.

Yesterday, Tom wrote an article for The Tyee about the pay equity issues raised by CUPE 391, Vancouver library workers.  And today, the Vancouver Sun published a story about pay equity issues. Fancy that!  Finally… library issues are breaking past the concerns about garbage.

Vancouver's Library Strike: Women's Pay on the Line

Picketing librarians at VPL.

Men get nearly $6 more hourly for similar work, says union.

By Tom Sandborn

Published: August 20, 2007

Vancouver city librarians say a key reason they're still on the
picket line is a sexist divide in pay rates. Hourly pay for library
jobs filled mostly by women start at nearly $6 less than jobs of equal
value that happen to be filled by a majority of men, a study shows.

The 17.5 per cent raise over five years the city is now offering is only part of what the union is fighting for, they said.

Spokespeople for CUPE 391, the local that represents city
librarians, told The Tyee on Thursday night that they were encouraged
that their employer had agreed to meet for negotiations on Friday, Aug.
17, but were cautious about how much progress they could make. They
said that although the city's press release announcing the new
negotiations indicated a willingness “to negotiate wage adjustments as
a means of addressing wage issues raised by library staff,” to date the
city negotiators have refused to discuss any of the local's four key
bargaining demands: pay equity, improvements for part-time workers, job
security and general benefit improvements.

Three weeks into the strike, they say the city's latest offer falls
short of others already settled in the Lower Mainland, and includes a
proposal to add a new, low-wage job classification that would hire
workers at reduced wages to do work currently done by library

“Pay equity is a human rights issue,” said Laura Safarian, a
librarian at VPL's downtown main branch, and a member of her local's
bargaining committee.

“Canada has signed on to international agreements that recognize the
human rights implications of gender bias in wages. This statement from
the city, awkward as it is, represents the first time we've seen any
recognition at all of the issue from the employer. We have made
significant compromises in our negotiations already, including a
reduction in the special wage adjustment we're asking for, for all
professional librarians,” Safarian added.

read more Vancouver's Library Strike: Women's Pay on the Line

Here is the Vancouver Sun article:

Strike could last months, city official says

City, union making no progress toward settlement, spokesman says

Jeff Lee,
Vancouver Sun

Published: Monday, August 20, 2007

Vancouver city officials say a simmering summer strike by three civic unions could last for months.
a new proposal from the union representing striking library workers “is
going in the wrong direction,” city spokesman Jerry Dobrovolny said the
public should brace for the strike, which began more than a month ago,
to continue much longer.
“Typical city strikes tend to be about six
to eight weeks,” he said. “While I can't speculate on how long this one
will now last, I can say that this one clearly isn't typical. I would
say it is going to be a long one.”
Dobrovolny's comments followed a  meeting Monday with The Vancouver Sun's editorial board.
the meeting, he accused the unions representing 6,000 striking inside,
outside and library workers of engaging in a “larger political agenda,”
a comment a union official later dismissed as “rubbish.”
said the city offer essentially matches five-year contracts recently
signed with 10 other municipalities, apart from some specific issues
peculiar to each union.
Dobrovolny said no new talks are scheduled,
and the city has no idea how it is going to resolve the dispute, which
is actually three separate strikes, the longest of which is now in its
33rd day.
He said striking workers now appear to be trying to put
new demands on the table, something that “takes the two sides in
different directions.”
For example, he said, library workers made
significant new demands in a proposal opened by city negotiators on the
weekend, and a statement on the outside workers' website warns that
“the longer this strike goes on, our demands and costs to the employer
will go up.”
But the presidents of all three striking locals of the
Canadian Union of Public Employees said Monday afternoon they are not
making new demands and in fact are generally happy with the standard
set in the other five-year municipal agreements.
 Where they disagree is on issues that specifically affect their unions, they said.

Read more: Strike could last months, city official says

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