Category Archives: Library Strike

Terry Glavin wins Lt. Governor's Award for Literary Excellence





Terry Glavin named recipient of
the sixth annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award
for Literary Excellence


Okay…. it was author Terry Glavin who partly inspired me to create a “writer's speaking series” on the 2007 strike line of CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers.   Terry called me up for some reason or another, maybe to admit he was a big fan of my Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, and somehow I asked him to give a reading on our strike line.  And that's how it started!  After Terry came many other authors such as Stan Persky, Hiromi Goto, Daniel Gawthrop, Rita Wong, Tom Sandborn, Chuck Davis….  but it started with Terry!

IMG_1743 by you.

Author, jounalist Terry Glavin speaks to the CUPE 391 Vancouver library workers – giving support – photo Todd Wong

We since became friends and look for reasons to go for a pint of Guinness at the Irish Times Pub in Victoria, or host a Gung Haggis house party at his place… but the only thing we manage to do is leave comments and links to each other blogs. 

Terry has written amazing books, and is very big on diversity – both cultural and environmental and bio-diversity.  Moreover, I think we recognize in each other a deep respect for First Nations culture and history, the ability to laugh and poke fun at mainstream institutions, and the necessity of shaking up the world a little now and then.

But on this Saturday, I will be able to have a drink and toast to my rabble rousing “outspoken voice” as he is feted by the BC literati.  In the mean time he says heVows To Resist The Urge To Cash The Cheque And Head Straight For The Track”


At last year's BC Book Prizes, I got to hang out a bit with Gary Geddes, the 2008 winner of the Lt. Gov's Award for Literary Excellence. 
Rita Wong and Gary Geddes big winners at BC Book Prizes Gala

Terry and Gary are friends, so Terry won't mind if I put Gary's picture in here…

Check out the official BC Book Prize website

and what they have to say about Terry:

Vancouver, BC
– The West Coast Book Prize Society is proud to recognize Terry Glavin as the
recipient of the sixth annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary

’s Lieutenant Governor,
the Honourable Steven Point, will present
the award at the
Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prize Gala to be held at
the Marriott Pinnacle Hotel in
Vancouver on April 25, 2009.

The event will be hosted
by BC BookWorld publisher and
author Alan Twigg .

“Terry Glavin,
author and journalist, has been an outspoken voice in
British Columbia as a conservationist and
nature writer. He is known for his passionate commitment to
British Columbia ’s First Nations and
for his deep understanding of how First Nation culture and way of life are
bound up with the province’s
natural history and our future as a just and sustainable society.

In addition to his books,
Glavin’s many articles on social and political issues are evidence of his
strong journalistic ability to marshal facts and his unwillingness to go with
the accepted wisdom of either
the right or the
left. In his role as an iconoclast, he is a critical voice in
the dialogue that sustains a civil society.

As editor, Glavin has also
brought us the innovative and
courageous Transmontanus series, published by New Star Books. Established in
1992 with the aim of exploring
the relationships between landscape and imagination,
this innovative series of 16 titles has given voice to authors and
the mes that might o the rwise
have been lost to us.

Glavin offers an
extraordinarily holistic vision that does not focus on single issues, but
instead in everything he writes shows us a world where culture and nature,
human aspiration, natural beauty, language, history and social justice are
inextricably intertwined.

Terry Glavin has won many
awards for his work as a journalist, as a science and technology writer, for
his editorial innovation and for his powerful essays. We are privileged to
honour him with the Lieutenant
Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence in 2009, for his contribution to
life and letters in British Columbia
and for his willingness to show us how to see our world more deeply, more fully
and more truthfully.”

– Jury member Ellen Godfrey

The jury for this year’s Lieutenant
Governor’s Award: Ellen Godfrey, author and former literary publisher;
David Hill, Manager of Munro’s Books, Victoria; and Sheryl Mac
Kay , host of CBC’s North by Northwest.

This prize was
established in 2003 by former Lieutenant Governor, the
Honourable Iona Campagnolo, to recognize British
Columbia writers who have contributed to
the development of literary excellence in
the province. The recipient receives a cash award of
$5,000 and a commemorative certificate.


All BC
Book Prizes info at


Todd Wong & David Philip perform at COPE summer BBQ at Vancouver Rowing Club

Todd Wong brought his accordion repertoire from the CUPE 391 Library Square strike line to the COPE summer bbq at the Vancouver Rowing Club

It was a sold out Thursday night for the COPE annual summer BBQ at the Vancouver Rowing Club in Stanley Park, on July 17.

Who showed up?  Why there was COPE city councilor David Cadman, MLA
Adrian Dix, MLA David Chudnovsky, Vision city councilors Heather Deal, George Chow, Tim
Stevenson, COPE parks commissioner Loretta Woodcock, COPE school board trustee Allan Wong, and Vision
mayoralty candidate Gregor Robertson. There were also lots of candidates such as recently declared Council candidates Andrea Reimer, Kerry Jang, Meena Wong and Parks Board candidates Stuart Mackinnon, and Aaron Jasper + parliamentary candidate Don Davies.

Here is a group of wannabe politicians for the Vancouver civic election: 1. Gregor Roberson –
Vision Mayoral candidate
2. Sarah
Blythe – Park Board candidate
Aaron Jasper – Park Board Candidate, 4. Meena Wong – COPE City Council candidate, 5. David Eby City Council candidate  – photo Patrick Tam

Labour Unions were also represented.  Attending were David Walker the new BCGEU president,  Bill Saunders president of the Vancouver District Labour Council, and CUPE 391 Vancouver Library workers.


The CUPE 391 table featured vice-presidents Laura Safarian, Inder Pannu and Library shipper/film maker David Philip.  Fellow CUPE 391 library workers not in the photo are Mark Whittam, Margaret, and yours truly Todd Wong – photo Patrick Tam

CUPE 391's presence was very special because not only did the Vancouver Library Workers sponsor a table, they also represented a good portion of the featured entertainment with Todd Wong (of Gung Haggis Fat Choy fame)  also newly elected to the CUPE 391 executive as member-at-large.

DSC_777742628 - Adrian's kenote speech – photo Patrick Tam

MLA Adrian Dix speaks to the sold out event, as keynote speaker.  He addresses the inequalities in the city. He also shared a secret with the NDP friendly crowd – but I can't reproduce it here, because he didn't want to share it with the media… not just yet.

DSC_765642516 - MC Carlo BODROGI – photo Patrick Tam

Carlo Bodrogi did a fine job MCing the
event. I discovered that he is half-Phillipino and the other half is Jewish and Hungarian…
very Gung Haggis, as I explained to him the term “Hapa” which is a
Hawaiian term that means “half Asian”

DSC_781142662 - Todd WONG's act– photo Patrick Tam

Todd Wong reprised selections from his “Library Square strike-line repertoire” as David Philip shared his films made during last year's CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers strike.  Todd shared stories about what it was like on the strike line, as CUPE 391 made media headlines and waves in the labour movement because of their creative and innovative strike line activities, which included “flying bicycle pickets,” knitting groups, musicians, video films, and a writer's reading series – organized by Wong. 

“The accordion and music made it easier to interact with the public,” said Wong telling tales of the songs he would play as pedestrians made their way to the ballet, the hockey game, or attended “Word on the Street” literary and book fair. 

Philip's videos demonstrated not only the creativity of CUPE 391 picketers, but also the resolve to deal with the stress and challenges of a 3 month strike.  They are filled with anger, compassion, humor and the strength of human spirit. 

Rachel Marcuse was event organizer, and she said “People told me it was the best entertainment we've had yet at our events,” as Wong was able to blend together the art forms of music and video with the politics and pathos of the strike line.

Watch some of David Philip's videos on you tube:

DAY 43

See more of Patrick Tam's pictures at:

Todd Wong supports Raymond Louie's campaign to be Vancouver Mayor

Vancouver city councilor Raymond Louie asked me to support his bid to be Vancouver Mayor.  Raymond would be a great mayor… I immediately said “Absolutely!”


stands in front of Historic Joy Kogawa House on April 25th, 2008.  This
was his first visit to the house, after supporting motions on city council to help save the house from demolition, and plant a cherry tree graft at Vancouver City Hall in 2005.  Raymond holds some of Joy Kogawa's books to share
with his wife and children – photo Todd Wong

Raymond Louie could be Vancouver's first Chinese-Canadian mayor.  He is
a multi-generational Vancouverite from the East Side.  He is a second
term Vancouver city councilor.

Raymond Louie has been getting some very significant endorsers including:

George Chow, Vision Vancouver Councillor
Joy MacPhail, former Deputy Premier and Leader of the Opposition
Doug McArthur, former Deputy Minister to the Premier
Wayson Choy, author of “The Jade Peony”
Richard Tetrault, artist
Darlene Marzari, former Vancouver City Councillor and B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs
Eddie Chan, Chairman Zhongshan Allied Association
David Black, Canadian Office and Professional Employees Local 378 Vice-President
Margaret Birrell, Community Activist
and now….. me!

  My statement of endorsement is now featured on Raymond Louie's website:

“Raymond Louie actually lives the culturally diverse Gung Haggis Fat
Choy lifestyle that is my creative world. His own family straddles many
cultures and many generations, and he actively demonstrates that he
understands the many facets that can make our city shine like a
diamond. I have seen how Raymond makes things happen as a city
councilor, bringing together different groups and perspectives such as
arts, economics, heritage and cultures. As a mayor that empowers others
to be their best, Raymond will be dynamic and our jewel of a city
should shine even brighter.”

Todd Wong, arts advocate and creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

To support Raymond as the Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate, you have to
1) Join Vision as a member – click here!
2) Vote at the Vision Vancouver meeting on June 15th, Croatian Community Centre.

Raymond has recently made some wonderful statements on:

He has also currently “advocating for the
creation of a non-profit foundation that will establish a long-term
funding source for the chronically underfunded Childcare Endowment

I have personally known Raymond since the fall of 2002, when he ran for
city council.  Initially, I met his wife Tonya first, because she was
on the board of Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, where I had
volunteered for, and then was hired as a program coordinator.  I
finally met Raymond at the Chinese Cultural Centre when Mike Harcourt
endorsed COPE mayoral candidate Larry Campbell. 

After that our
paths just seemed to keep crossing, as Raymond was invited to present
the Queen's Jubilee Medals to VAHMS board members Jim Wong-Chu and
Kuldip Gill. As well, Raymond attended the opening of the “Three
Pioneer Canadian Chinese Families
” at the Chinese Cultural Centre
Museum and Archives.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan's
family was featured, and I was one of the featured stories as a
descendant.  Raymond attended because he was distantly related to H.Y.
Louie, whose family was also featured along with the family of Lee-Bick.

I have seen Raymond at many events throughout Vancouver over the past 6 years.  He is an effective city councilor and is active in the community.

To see him in action at City Council check out this video:

YouTube – EgoDensity Round 1

Raymond Louie criticizes Mayor Sam Sullivan's Eco-Density program

Here are some of the highlights when Raymond and I have shared together:


Raymond climbed on top of the Taiwanese Dragon Boat head… and reaches out to simulate grabbing a flag before crossing the finish line.  I taught him how to climb onto the dragon head – neglecting to tell him it had never been done in Canada before.  Raymond lost the demonstration race to Olympic medalist Lori Fung. – photo courtesy of Taiwanese Cultural Festival.

August to September 2003, Raymond Louie was instrumental in helping to launch the inaugural Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race.  Raymond helped stickhandle through bureaucratic channels during a Vancouver Port strike, and participated as the flag grabber vs '84 Olympic gold medalist Lori Fung in a demonstration race.

November 3rd, 2005, Raymond supported the Save Kogawa House campaign at Vancouver City Hall, when we appealed to City Council for help.  City council used an unprecedented motion to delay a demolition permit application by 3 months, to give us time to fundraise and purchase the house.  Raymond also said that this project was so important he asked all the city councilors to make a donation that day.

January 2006, Raymond brings his family with wife and 3 kids to Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  The featured performers are Rick Scott & Harry Wong, and the No Shit Shirleys.


July 2007, Raymond Louie calls for mediation to end the Vancouver civic workers' strike.  Mayor Sam Sullivan and the NPA decline mediation and let the “unnecessary strike” drag on for 3 months, before a mediator is finally called in on Thanksgiving weekend to settle a contract very similar to what other municipalities already settled for 3 months earlier.  Following a July 29th rally at Vancouver City Hall, Raymond Louie comes out to talk with members of Vancouver's civic unions.  I introduce him to my fellow workers of CUPE 391, Vancouver Library Workers – photo Todd Wong.

January 25th, 2008.  Raymond Louie appears on Rock 101's Bro Jake show with “Toddish McWong” to help promote the Gung Haggis Fat Choy event.

Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 242

January 27th, 2008.  Raymond Louie wears a kilt to Gung Haggis Fat Choy. photo Gung Haggis collection.  A highlight of the evening is Raymond on stage with a group of men wearing kilts as a “Toast to the Lassies” chorus with co-host Catherine Barr – photo VFK.

Raymond Louie for mayor

March 13th, 2008, Vancouver Sun reports Raymond Louie's declaration to run for Vancouver mayor.  Raymond  invites me to be one of his supporters in this photo taken at the Chinese Cultural Centre courtyard.  I am standing on the far left with many key supporters of the Chinatown business and community organizers.  Dr. Kerry Jang is 5th from right – Kerry will run as a candidate for councilor with Vision Vancouver. photo Bill Keay Vancouver Sun.

Photo Library - 2645

April 6th, 2008.  Tartan Day is officially proclaimed in Vancouver. Raymond seconded the motion in City Council, moved by Heather Deal, which passed on April 1st.  As deputy mayor, Raymond reads the proclamation prior to a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice.  In this photo l-r: Chinese-Scottish-Canadian Michael Brophy holds the Scottish flag, Todd Wong, Raymond Louie holds proclamation, bagpiper Joe McDonald-  photo Todd Wong/Georgia Thorburn


Raymond Louie speaks at the CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers annual general meeting.  He encouraged everybody to get involved in their union in order to help make positive changes.  He was very nicely received by the CUPE 391 audience.  In this picture, Raymond stands in front of another Vision mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, while CUPE 391 president Alexandra Youngberg moderates – photo Todd Wong

How I spent my summer and fall during the Vancouver library strike…What did I do on the picket line?

How I spent my summer and fall during the Vancouver library strike…What did I do on the picket line?

 IMG_2219  2Rosanne, Peter and Todd - CUPE 391 on strike - photo Todd Wong   IMG_1325 3Tai Chi in the morning CUPE 391 on strike - photo Todd Wong    IMG_1335 4 IMG_1569 5IMG_1658 6IMG_1616 6bTrivial Pursuit CUPE 391 on strike - photo Todd Wong      IMG_1366
1) July 26th Strike begins. 2) Day 9 – I got to know my co-workers better such as Roseanne and strike captain Peter deGroot. 3) I learned tai-chi taught by Tim Firth. 4) August 4- I
walked with our union in the Pride parade. 5) I bring my accordion down to the picket line. 6a) Day 15 We share food for our 1st potluck.  6b) Playing Trivial Pursuit with Matt and Rachel

7IMG_1627 8IMG_1672 9 IMG_1690 10IMG_174711IMG_1758 12 IMG_1662 12bIMG_1847
 7) Knitting hats for the homeless – I take pictures of my co-workers Diana and Tanya. 8) Day 16 We go to City Hall for a rally. 9)  I played music with my
co-worker Ross Bliss 10) Day 20 – I invited author Terry Glavin to speak. 11) Dr. Fred Bass, former City councillor gave words of support. 12) We engage the public – Donald works in the Federal Building, and he thanked me for work I did over a year ago on the information desk directing him to head tax documentation. 12b) I hang with fellow library working dragon boat paddlers Harvey and Connie.

13IMG_232714IMG_1843 15IMG_1830 16IMG_2115 17IMG_2133 18 IMG_2146
13) August 24, I invite Stan Persky to read.  14/15) We meet and welcome CUPE 15 members.  16) Aug 21, Day 34 I invite writer Tom Sandborn to come speak. 17) We initiate “Grandeur on Georgia” and wave to cars on Georgia St. 18) We initiate “Flying pickets” and go picket at different library sites spending 1 hr at each branch such as Hastings.

19IMG_2190 20IMG_2197 21 IMG_2218 22 IMG_2289 23IMG_2233 24 IMG_2239
19) Day 35 – I invite World Poetry to come read.  20) Aug 22 I invite Ellen Woodsworth, former city councillor to give words of support.  21) Globe & Mail reporter Laura Drake writes a story featuring James Gemmil and me. 22) Aug 23 Library workers picket with pizzazz appears in Globe & Mail.  24) Aug 23  I invite Chuck Davis to come speak. 24) We initiate “Grandeur on Georgia” with CUPE 15 Vancouver inside workers at Vancouver Playhouse/Q.E. Theatre.

25) I decide to wear lots of Hawaiian shirts on the picket line. 26) Aug 24 I invite Stan Persky to come read.  27) Aug 27 I invite Daniel Gawthrop to come read.  28)  We go to City Hall for another rally.  29) Ellen Woodsworth introduces me to other union and community organizers.  30) I introduced city councillor Raymond Louie to my fellow library workers. 30b This picture of me, my accordion, picket captain Alexis Greenwood and city librarian Paul Whitney made it into the Georgia Straight article Boss and union tell different tales.
31IMG_2705 32 IMG_2760 33 IMG_2765 34 IMG_2814 35 IMG_2803 36IMG_2810
31) Aug 30 – I invite Hiromi Goto to come read.  32) Aug 30 I hurt my back lifting a flat of water and have to use a wheelie-walker.  33) Sep 6- I invite poet Rita Wong to come read.  34) Sep 7 I invite Vancouver poet laureate George McWhirter to come read. 35/36) The media comes to film us doing “the wave” with our strike signs.

37IMG_001838IMG_300139IMG_2990 40IMG_3003 41IMG_003342IMG_0110IMG_0087
37) I have to play accordion sitting down now.  38) Sep 14 CUPE 15's Theatre show comes to Library Square.  39) I take them to CBC studios and find somebody from the newsroom.  40) We are filmed for the evening news. 41) Sep 27  Back to playing accordion for Grandeur on Georgia. 42) Sep 29 – I emcee the inaugural music cabaret for Vancouver District Labour Council, organized by Earle Peach, and funds raised are giving to CUPE 391, by Bill Saunders VDLC president.

43 44IMG_011245Naomi_Klein_Todd 46IMG_0173 47IMG_0187 48IMG_0196 49IMG_0190
43) Sep 30 – I play accordion for Word on the Strike, a parallel complimentary event to Word on the Street.  44) Author Jean Barman came to say Hi while I played accordion at Word on the Strike. 45) Oct 5 – Author Naomi Klein comes to read, invited by Craig Searle.  46) Oct 9 – Voting Day on the mediated recommendations, We visit with CUPE 15 who will be going back to work. 47) CUPE 391 votes 78% NO and rejects mediator's recommendations.  48) Oct 12 Jinder and I play chess.  49) I help with the information booth with Kristie and Angela.

October 21st, we vote 71% to accept new contract with changes to the mediator's recommendations.
October 24, we are back working at the library.
July 26 to Oct 21st – 87 days of strike action.
The first ever strike in CUPE 391's 77 years of union history.

Read Todd's stories about theLibrary Strike

See Todd's pictures at
Todd Wong's Flickr site


Vancouver library workers back at Libraries today: historic first strike is finally over

Vancouver library workers back at Libraries today: historic first strike is over.

No more enthusiastic pickets like this anymore….  CUPE 391 Vancouver library workers really raised the bar for creativity on the picket line. See Globe & Mail story: Library workers picket with pizzazz. This photo si from september 21, 2007. day 58. photo by rabidsquirrel

The historic first library strike is now over.  On Friday CUPE 391 voted 71.4% to accept the new changes in latest contract proposal with their employer the Vancouver Public Library.  The Library board ratified the contract on Saturday morning.  And just like that… all the picket signs were finally officially down. 

On Sunday, Branch and Division heads and seniors attended meetings to discuss re-opening the library for Wednesday.  Late Sunday afternoon I met our CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg, at the Dream Vancouver conference and we talked with some of Vancouver's community activists, leaders and city councillors.

I went to work at the Oakridge Branch Library today.  This is where I usually have a regular Monday 1-9pm shift.  Tomorrow I will work at Champlain Heights Branch.

Working with my co-workers, many whom I had last seen on the picket line at Library Square, or at the voting meeting on Friday… felt kind of comfortably strange.  “I'm so used to seeing everybody all bundled up,” I said referring to the cold wet weather that had marked the last month of the strike. 

The branch was closed to the public as we unpacked boxes of books, checked them into the computer system, revised them in order and shelved them in their places.  The feeling was generally jovial, as we worked fast and efficiently, taking pride in jobs well done and happy to be finding our groove.  I did raise a concern about RSI injury, because our muscles and joints are not accustomed to the book handling actions, after 3 months of not working.  We switched jobs every now and then, chatted about our strike experiences… the good the bad, the surprising.  It was fun to be back with my co-workers again.

There's going to be some time for reflection about our time on the strike.  There have been friendships and bonds created that will last a long time.  We have seen people step up, that we didn't expect.  We have thanked our committees and leaders, and extended our warm support to them.  But it's not over yet… there are plans to document our historic strike action, and a cook book on how to hold a strike CUPE 391 style!  With puppet shows, chili recipes, knitting for solidarity, author readings, bicycle pickets, bbqs and all the creative and unique things that our members did to engage the public and the media with our message, and to keep our spirits up and build solidarity on the picket line.

CUPE 391 president Alexandra Youngberg with job action committee leader D'Arcy Stainton, a former union president. August 16th, Day 22 on strike.  Who knew there would be 87 days on the picket line? – photo Todd Wong

Today, Monday morning, Alex Youngberg, CUPE 381 President was interviewed on CBC Radio's Early Edition by Rick Cluff.

Rick: “Happy to be back?”

Alex: “Most of our members looked eager to take on their duties again.  It's a mixed emotion of course, we are going back united to carry on our fight for gender discrimination in other venues.

Rick:  “However, do you feel you made inroads.  Because at least you brought the issue to the fore, the city recognized it, mediator recognized it, and they're working on it.”

“Yes, we've definitely raised our profile on this issue this round of bargaining.  The results aren't what we intended, but as you say, the mediator clearly indicated that pay equity is a problem at the City of Vancouver, or we wouldn't have gotten 14 wage adjustments.  That's rather a backwards way of doing it,  We should have established that there was a problem, and the wage adjustments would have been the result.

Rick Cluff: For a union that hasn't been out before… What was it like for your members?

Alex: “Catatonic…  To begin with… because, we are very much engaged with public service, and that direct contact.  The public and the staff tend to support each other in building community.  We take questions, We give answers.  We learn from them what they need, and we learn how to give better responses.  It's a very symbiotic relationship.  We had to learn other ways to engage with the public being on strike.

“It takes a lot for this group, after 77 years, to go out on strike.  So the issue of unfairness of not being paid for equal pay for work of equal value had been an issue for 26 years and it had to be finally dealt with on a different level.”

Rick:  “And for picket line rookies, what was it like when the inside and outside city workers went back a week before you?”

Alex: “Well actually, we had several projects in the pipeline to engage the public.  They hadn't quit at all at that point….

“We actually wanted to give the public back their space.  The public deserved to be back in the libraries and there were other places to take this issue now that we've raised our profile.”

Rick: “Now back to pay equity which was perhaps the major stumbling block, what do you feel you've achieved there?”

Alex: “Well, beyond the recognition… we do have a committee to discuss classifications. The employer has been very careful to keep that term “pay equity” out of the contract when it describes this committee but we will be meeting until 2009 to discuss these issues.  We have also done a great deal of networking across North America on this issue and there's many female-dominated work forces whose issues are similar to ours and they are engaging with us.  So this issue of gender discrimination has become a social justice cause that has gained recognition with a lot of groups and we are working together now politically and we will be seeing different ways to resolve this”.

Well done Alex!.

Listen to the full Rick Cluff – Alexandra Youngberg interview on CBC Radio Early Edition

AUDIO: CUPE 391’s Alex Youngberg reflects on her union local's first strike (Runs 4:50)

For information about the library hours, date due, no fines etc.

All branches will reopen on Wednesday, October 24 according to their
normal operating hours.

Full services, including complete electronic services,
may not be immediately available.

We are currently preparing the libraries to serve you and
look forward to restoring services in the coming week.

No late fees will be charged for the time the library was
closed or during the first week or reopening.

Items that were on hold when the labour disruption started
will be held for pick up for an additional week.
There will be no charge for holds that expired after July 25.

Loan periods will be extended for all materials checked out during the first week of reopening.

Items normally on loan for 21 days will be extended to 28 days.

Items normally on loan for 7 days will be extended to 14 days.

Vancouver Library Workers vote 71% to go back to work: state that important advances toward pay equity have been achieved

Vancouver Library Workers vote 71% to go back to work:
state that important advances toward pay equity have been achieved

Craig Searle, author Naomi Klein and Todd Wong – Klein visited the Library Square picket line to give words of support to the Vancouver library workers on Oct 5th.

Vancouver library workers voted today (Friday) to accept new changes to a contract proposal that included most of the Brian Foley mediator recommendations.  The vote was 71.4% in favour of the new contract.

(update) The Vancouver Public Library board ratified the agreement today, on Saturday morning.

The union meeting started at 10:30 am on Friday, and with questions went 15 minutes past the 12 noon starting time that had been designated for voting to start.  Voting went on until 6pm.

After the voting, some members went out to picket sites at Brittania Branch and Library Square.  Votes were taken back to CUPE 391 headquarters where the announcement was to have happened at 7pm.

I attended the meeting, and picket duty at Brittania Branch library.

It was an emotionally charged meeting where the CUPE 391 Bargaining committee expressed their reasons for urging the membership to accept these proposals.  While the agreement did not give the Vancouver library workers two of the main issues they fought hard for such as pay equity and part-time/auxilliary benefits, the bargaining committee was able to get a “Classification Committee” added.  While this is not the Pay Equity Committee that CUPE 391 was fighting for, it will basically provide a mechanism for the library workers to compare library job classifications with other comparable job classifications in other City of Vancouver unions.

Burnaby library workers did achieve the “job review committee” that Vancouver library workers wanted, but were denied by Vancouver Library Management.

Donn Stanley CUPE National assistant regional director and Jim Gorman CUPE National representative were also in attendance.  Stanley praised the CUPE 391 bargaining committee, stating that “You have to be proud of your bargaining committee.  They did and incredible job.” 

A heart-felt standing ovation by Vancouver library workers was then given to their union bargaining committee.  Donn Stanley Long stated how impressed he was by the creativity, dedication and solidarity of the Vancouver library workers. 

CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg had just returned from a CUPE National conference in Toronto and told the membership that “Everybody knew about CUPE 391.  I am so proud of you all.”

“You all raised the bar for job action with your activities. 
Never before in labour history did strike action see knitters, puppet
shows, author readings, bicycle pickets…. and everything else you
did, like Word on the Strike.  Libraries and unions everywhere are
watching us.”

Time and time again, library workers stated how proud they were of their union brothers and sisters. At the same time, other library workers said they were bitterly disappointed at the library management's refusal to address pay equity, as well as part-time/auxiliary issues.

Many workers vowed a stronger commitment to the new friendships they had made while on the picket line, and to union issues. 

The Vancouver Public Library Board meets Saturday morning to ratify the agreement in order to make it official.

The Bargaining committee wrote this on the CUPE 391 website:

We are pleased to be back so that we can once again offer to the
citizens of Vancouver access to the great service that each and
everyone of the membership provides. Unfortunately, this is a
bittersweet sentiment, as more than half our membership have not had
this work fully recognized in this new collective agreement.
Nevertheless, the fight for our issues, in particular the fight for Pay
Equity, will continue beyond the venue of the bargaining table, and we
believe we will one day soon realize our goals.


Here is the CUPE 391 announcement that was released to the media

Attention News Editors:
Library strike ends: CUPE 391 makes important steps towards pay equity

    VANCOUVER, Oct. 19 /CNW/ – After 88 days on strike, CUPE 391 members have voted 71 per cent in favour of the tentative agreement reached yesterday
between bargaining representatives of the library workers' union and the
Vancouver Public Library (VPL). The VPL Board will be holding their
ratification vote tomorrow morning.
    The agreement was based on recommendations issued by mediator Brian
Foley: on
October 5, 2007 but included adjustments that were vital for the union before
the members could accept the deal. A primary adjustment was the addition of a
joint-committee on classification issues whereby the union can express their
pay equity concerns.
    “We've been saying all along that we went out on strike on a principle,”
says CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg, “now we're going back on a principle.
We are going back knowing we have made important advances towards the
long-term goal achieving pay equity and paved the way to make further advances
in the future.”
    In addition to Foley's recommendations, the tentative agreement also
includes the:

    –   Inclusion of three more librarian positions into pay grade
        increases/wage adjustments.
    –   Expansion of benefit coverage to include orthodics.
    –   Improvements to the return to work agreement, including: maternity,
        paternity, adoption leave coverage; improvements on how to handle
        vacation upon return to work and extension of timeline on grievances.

    “We are looking forward to working with our employer to fully restore
public library services,” says Youngberg. The library workers are expected to
return to work as early as Wednesday, October 24, 2007.
    “The public is encouraged to approach us in the library and ask us about
pay equity. We'd be happy to tell you everything we know and point you to a
book or two on the subject.”
    CUPE 391 represents 770 library workers employed by the Vancouver Public
Library. This was their first strike in their 77-year history. It began on
July 26, 2007.

For further information: Alexandra Youngberg, CUPE 391 President, (604)
908-6095; Ed Dickson, CUPE 391 bargaining chair, (778) 840-0207; Diane Kalen,
CUPE Communications, (778) 229-0258,

Bill Tieleman takes out the garbage on media coverage of the Vancouver civic strike

Bill Tieleman takes out the garbage on media coverage of the Vancouver civic strike

Cupe 15 workers came for a visit to the CUPE 391 Library Square picket line to share solidarity

Bill Tieleman has written Vancouver newspaper columnists, editorials get facts wrong in trash talking CUPE Vancouver workers over strike and exposes the lapses of journalists who succumbed to all the “strike myths” propagated by Mayor Sam, the City and it's media spin doctors. 

Thieleman writes:

There is a lot of garbage left
around town from the end of the Vancouver city workers' strike – too
bad so much of it was printed in newspapers.

Those who insist on trash-talking workers should at least get their facts straight, but apparently that's asking too much.

Or maybe some columnists are simply suffering amnesia about why and when the strike got “personalized,” strangely forgetting Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan's lead role.

My friend Mike Smyth in the Province railed that: “The labour movement chose to personalize their attacks on Sullivan from Day 1.”

And the Vancouver Sun's Pete McMartin opined that the Canadian Union of Public Employees gained momentum: “by its clever, and unfair, campaign of painting this as 'Sam's Strike.'”

Did the people who advised Mayor Sam on his Olympic spin also advise him to say that the next Vancouver civic election will be “Sullivan vs the unions”?  A true leader would recognize that he is Mayor to every citizen in the city – not just the 47.3% of the voting public.  Gee… that's not even 50% + 1.

Who controls the media and why did they write the stories / editorials they did – is a good question.

The city of Vancouver is the biggest contributor to the GVRD/Metro Labour Relations Bureau that bargained on their behalf, while other munincipalities did away with their “services” which included hiring the high priced public relations firm The Wilcox Group.

The Wilcox Group was hired specifically to spin the 39 month contract, a CUPE National executive member told me.  When that failed, they were fired.

It's interesting that the Wilcox Group's clients include BCTV/CHEK TV/Can West Global Communications and Pacific Newspaper Group (Vancouver Sun and The Province) – two of the largest media influences in the Vancouver region. 

But not all the media stories were generated by high priced communication experts.

It was the creative and community minded library workers that created bicycle pickets, puppet shows, author readings, knitting for the homeless, Word on the Strike Fair, and many videos to promote their cause.  It was these grass roots actions – not CUPE paid staffers,  that inspired stories in the Georgia Straight, 24 Hours, and the Metro such as the Globe & Mail's “Library workers picket with pizazz”

The library workers did this all on volunteer time.  We did not sit around on the picket line creating a “War Room.”  We wanted peace and resolution.  We are on the front lines at the library.  We engage the public when they need a book, ask directions or need to be told to “Shh…”

Wherever we set up pickets we were thanked and supported by our patrons.  They brought us cookies, coffees and soups.  We received donations and letters of support from library unions as far away as Florida and New York.  I personally met librarians from St. Paul's Minnesota and Australia who came to the Library Square picket line.  Everybody was friendly toward us, with the exception of a few ill-informed people that yelled at us to “pick up the garbage.”

see the brilliant video Grandeur on Georgia about The Wilcox Group vs Pay Equity at

+ “Wage & Term” a comparison of Bobby Burnaby vs Vicky Vancouver

See more videos on

Vancouver Library Strike settlement soon? More media attention on the library now

Vancouver Library Strike settlement soon?
More media attention on the library now.

library co-worker friends Kristie, Angela and Alex staff the
Information booth and ask passers-by to sign a petition asking the
library management to return to the bargaining table.- photo Todd Wong

It's been hard for my fellow library workers on the picket line.  This is our first strike in the library worker union's 77 years of history.  Who would have predicted a strike would have gone on this long?  Well people at city hall did…  City spokesman Jerry Dobrovolny said back on August 20th, “Typical city strikes tend to be about six to eight weeks.”  But this 2007 strike was exacerbated by the city bargaining tactics of constant stonewalling and delay and walking away from the bargaining table from December through the spring, through the summer and into the fall. 

Today there's still a media blackout in effect.  So why is the Vancouver Sun publishing this story Striking library workers, city reach tentative deal on their website?  Who told them the information?

A CBC website story reports that Vancouver city manager Judy Rogers sent out a memo and talked with CBC News.  see CBC: Library staff, City of Vancouver reach tentative deal. This story was posted at 7:27 pm PST

News 1130 posted Possibility that Vancouver libraries could be opening next week at 5:19 pm PST

The CUPE 391 page lets library workers know there are “rumors” and “stories” going around, but they can't publish anything on the webpage.  The Bargaining committee will be down at Library Square for the morning crew talk, and apologizes for the confusion caused to its members.

When the CUPE 1004 and CUPE 15 unions for the Vancouver City inside and outside workers settled their contract disputes with the City of Vancouver, our job action committee leaders told us that maybe now, the media would pay attention to the library issues such as pay equity, and how the library strike has affected Vancouver citizens.  It's the middle of October and long after a schools started after Labour Day, the issue that students can't get books is now a news story.  see: Parents, schools suffer as libraries remain closed

But you can't settle a contract if the other party doesn't come to the
table.  The city negotiating teams were  roundly chastised in the media
for not understanding the definition of the word “negotiate” (see Vancouver Sun: Collective bargaining: Democracy in the workplace”).

The City negotiating team was also accused of an unfair labour practice called Boulwarism
where the city didn't even bother to negotiate settlements but instead
took a “take it or strike” approach to it's “offers” that were
couriered to CUPE 15 offices, moments before they were announced to the
media.  (see CUPE > City's failure to negotiate keeps its workers on strike.)


Meanwhile the media continues to print stories about how the striking workers shouldn't be able to take another job to put money on their table for their family or to help pay the mortgage.  Having enough money for food, or to pay the bills has been an issue for a lot of library workers.  A hardship committee was set up in the before the end of the second week of the strike.  Our union was sympathetic for these people and asked that people who were taking jobs elsewhere still put in some picket time both to keep in touch, and to keep solidarity. 20 hours of picket duty does not go far on $200 a week. When part-time jobs became available through our community networking, job contacts were first offered to people through the hardship committee.

And there are still other writers who believe that the CUPE unions were mistaken to rename strike action as “Sam's Strike” after Mayor Sullivan made several erroneous comments about the strike such as the right to picket the Olympics and also said that settling the strike not being a priority for him.

Check out Bill Tielman's column in 24 Hours.  Bill explores each of the “strike myths” and gives the resource links to set the stories straight.

Vancouver newspaper columnists, editorials get facts wrong in trash talking CUPE Vancouver workers over strike Vancouver newspaper columnists, editorials get facts wrong in trash talking CUPE Vancouver workers over strike. Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column …

Here are some of the latest stories on a google search.  Including a wonderful story about the reception that Vancouver library workers received at the CUPE National Convention in Toronto – where they shared their stories of the strike and the creativity of Vancouver libary workers in creating bicycle pickets, puppet shows, etc.

Striking library workers, city reach tentative deal
Vancouver Sun,  Canada – 1 hour ago
vote will be set, likely Friday or Saturday. The two sides have not formally signed the agreement, Once they do, a strikeVancouver's library workers walk
Convention delegates pledge funds to CUPE 391 struggle: Striking
Trading Markets (press release), CA – 1 hour ago
Vancouver's 800 library workers have been on strike for 86 days and without a contract for 289 days. Forced into job action by the employer's unwillingness

Parents, schools suffer as libraries remain closed
Globe and Mail, Canada – 15 hours ago
Students at Britannia Secondary School usually benefit from having the vast resources of the Vancouver Public Library at their fingertips.

Attention turns to library workers
Vancouver Sun,  Canada – 16 Oct 2007
Youngberg said the union met Monday with representatives of the Vancouver Public Library and the Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Bureau to discuss

Fall has come to Vancouver

Fall has come to Vancouver

IMG_0262-photo Deb Martin

It's definitely fall  when you can jump into a huge pile of leaves, We've had some cold weather for awhile… I've paddled and picketed through the recent rain.  But this weekend, the weather warmed up, and all the leaves have started falling on the ground.

I started my Sunday off with a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice.  The day was warmer than expected.  Good short sleeve
paddling weather.  We are doing long slow distance paddling from
Science World to Granville Island.   It's about a 2km distance.  Much
more than a usual 500m dragon boat race.  But after doing the recent
2km races for UBC Day of the Long Boat and Fort Langley Cranberry
Festival Canoe Regatta, everything is easy.  We are going to paddle up to Remembrance Day, then take a break over Christmas… then start up maybe after Valentine's Day.  Come out and join us on Sunday 1pm. We meet just south of Science World at the Dragon Zone clubhouse.

IMG_0240IMG_0241IMG_0243-photos Todd Wong
Marlene and Wendy have been a wonderful pair of lead strokes and really
enjoy paddling with each other.  Georgia joined us this year for her second year of paddling, and we've put her in
more situations than she expected – including eating haggis, wearing a
kilt, dragon boat sprint races, dragon boat barrel racing, tipping over in a voyageur canoe race. She's such a good sport.

Here's the huge pile of leaves… me in the leaf pile!

Leaves have been changing colour and
now are on the ground. The weather is
chilly, and the beaches are finally
empty of sun worshippers.  We went for a walk around Kits Point and discovered a huge pile of maple  and chestnut leaves.  Some people had been raking the leaves and jumping from a tree into the leaves.  CRAZY!


We walked around Kits Beach, up to Heritage Harbour, and often down behind the Kitsilano Yacht Club to Trafalgar St.  We saw a Kingfisher sitting on a sail boat mast at the Yacht Club.

Kitsilano Pool is a gorgeous long outdoor pool, beside English Bay.  During the summer, it is one of the best beachside hangouts..  It's such as shame that that pool was closed half-way through July when the Vancouver civic strike happened.  Pools, libraries and community centres were closed. All the other regions were able to settle without a strike but the City of Vancouver seemed to have a different agenda.  see


Kitsilano Pool was for the birds this summer.

Only the seagulls really seemed to enjoy Kits Pool this summer. Once the strike went into it's 2nd week, the pool had become quickly unfit for swimming. By mid-August it was clear the city probably had no intention of draining it, and refilling it with clean water before Labour Day. 

CUPE 1004 and CUPE 15 Outside and Inside workers are all back to work now.  It's only CUPE 391 Library Workers still out.  Talks went on this Monday afternoon… which is better than most of the summer when the Library Bargaining team went almost 5 weeks before replying to a union proposal.  As a library worker… it's been a disappointing bittersweet  summer, as the non-talks dragged on after our contract expired in December.

see my articles and pictures on the strike situation here:

CUPE 391, Vancouver library workers vote 78.1% to reject mediator Brian Foley's recommendations

Vancouver library workers CUPE 391 vote 78.1% to reject mediator Brian Foley's recommendations, calling it “Foley's Folly”

Television camera crews showed up early at Library Square on Tuesday, October 9th, in preparation of the the 7pm announcement for the vote by Vancouver library workers.  By late afternoon, Global TV and CBC TV had trucks parked on the plaza with lights set up for their reporters.

Starting at 9:30am, members of the 800 strong CUPE 391 began voting to reject or accept the recommendations to end the first strike in the Vancouver library workers' union in their 77 year history.  I arrived shortly after 3pm to register my vote.  There were two tents set up for voting by secret ballot.  In each tent there were two registrars who checked my name, and a scrutineer whom I also knew.

Today is cold and damp.  It is the first day that propane heaters have been brought to the picket line.

At 4pm there was a crew talk.  D'arcy Stainton gave us the skinny on the day's events.  He reminded people to vote, and that the media black out was lifted the bargaining committee was not speaking.  But if people wanted to speak to the media they were free to do so.  Stainton than made comment to the morning's Metro News which featured his friendly face on a large cover photo, with a story about the striking unions inside on page 2.  Bonus story was about the Knitters for Solidarity… (aka Knit-Picketeers) who have knitted 500+ hats and other articles to donate to those in need.

Ricky examines the front page of the Metro featuring picket captain D'Arrcy Stainton.  D'Arcy has been a wonderful leader on the strike action committee – photo Todd Wong.

At 5pm, Matt and I stopped by the CUPE 15 picket line in front of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre.  They were glad to see us, as we have often dropped by to give support, and also coordinated some joint “waves to the traffic” on Georgia Street.  The Playhouse CUPE 15 members come over to our Library Square picket line for coffee and also dropped in on our Friday BBQ's.  The mutual feeling was of support for each group.  We were glad that CUPE 15 felt good enough about Foley's recommendations to vote yes and accept them.  They felt disappointed for us, that the mediator's recommendations didn't come anywhere near to what we felt we could accept.  We both agreed that our part-time auxilliary workers are left without any job security.

15 and CUPE 391 workers demonstrate solidarity with a theatrical flair.
l-r Debra, ??, Kim, Alan, Matt and Hank – photo Todd Wong

Back at Library Square, I pulled my accordion out shortly after the 5:30pm closing of the voting polls.  Battle Hymn of the Republic also known as Solidarity Forever was the second song I played.  The first was Scotland the Brave, at the request of bargaining committee chair Ed Dickson.  Ed is a Scots descendant and his wife is Scottish.  With library/gypsy jazz guitarist Ross Bliss, we had earlier talked about the Scottish contributions to the development of Canada and the world.  Ed just liked the sound of Scotland the Brave… he wanted something stirring, and asked if I also had any Sousa marches.  I played a Sousa March, as well as When the Caissons Go Rolling Along, When the Saints Go Marching In and some other lively songs.

Soon the camera crews came over to ask Ed some questions, but he deflected them, saying he would make statements later when the vote was announced.  Television cameras came over to me and my accordion, as I was repeatedly asked to play a few rousing bars of “Solidarity Forever.”

Here's a flickr photo of me taken when I was performing at Word on the Strike by mordechai dangerfield
“Why am I playing music on the picket line?” I was asked by a reporter for CBC Radio International.

“In support of all the arts and cultural groups who are shut out of the library, because they cannot host their presentations here, they cannot access music here or archival documents… or whatever they need,” I replied.

“I am a 30+ library employee, so yes… I work as a library worker.  I play music to help lift the spirits of my fellow picketers, help create a special musical ambiance… and to help engage the public.  When you play beautiful music, people are sometimes more likely to ask you why you are picketing.

Alex Youngberg (CUPE 391 President) and Ed Dickson (CUPE 391 Bargaining Committee Chair) face the media as they prepare to announce the results of the Vancouver library workers vote to reject mediator Brian Foley's recommendations – photo Todd Wong

At 7pm, Ed Dickson, chair of the CUPE 391 bargaining committee made the announcement that CUPE 391 Vancouver library workers voted 78.1% to reject the recommendations by mediator Brian Foley.  

“Unfortunately, Mr. Foley's recommendations don't meet the needs of our memberships and the rejection is a very strong message that we need to go back to the library and do some more work,” said Dickson.  “Our bargaining committee is prepared to meet with the City Librarian Mr. Paul Whitney, and his bargaining committee.  To open the library, we have at strategy and a plan that we think will work   But we need to sit down with Mr. Whitney and his committee and get this library open.”

“They say you shouldn't go out
on a principle but it appears that we have,” CUPE 391 President Alex Youngberg said. “And the principle is an end
to discrimination.  This is a female dominated workforce, and we are
not compared with male dominated workforces. We do not get equal pay
for work of equal value.  This has been our fight all along and this
has been our principle.”

Ed Dickson said “We believe that Mr. Foley's recommendations could be the basis for a settlement, but clearly more work is required.  Our members have spoken, we had a very large turnout at the polls today.  They've given us a very clear direction.  They've give us the tools we think we need to go back and speak to the city librarian and his committee and settle this dispute… but clearly Mr. Foley's recommendations were not good enough, clearly he misinterpreted the issues that we presented to him.

“Pay equity is our number one issue. That's why we went on strike for and why we remain on strike.  The benefits improvements that he suggested to be enough to settle on don't even meet what the other eleven locals have settled for without a strike.  And finally there's nothing for our part-time auxillary workers who make up 49% of our work force.  We absolutely have to get improvements for these workers.

Alex than added “We're not asking for more money, we're just asking for more equitable distribution.  When the top members of our workforce are offered more money yet the bottom members are not offered anymore and there is a new classification introduced with even less money then there is a question that begs to be answered.  We are asking that question and there needs to be a different result.

“If CUPE 15 settles and goes back to work,” said Ed “that will focus more attention
on the city to say What the hell is the matter when you've got all
these other cities in the region that settle without a strike   We're
not asking for anything that none of other libraries got, we're asking
for items that have been regionally already accepted .  What the hell
is the matter with the city of Vancouver?  They can't settle with this
group of workers, they're starting to settle with some of their other
worker? What the hell is the matter with the city of Vancouver?”

It is interesting that the library workers – often seen as docile public servants or as information nerds, were the most vocal and strong in rejecting the mediation recommendations.  While CUPE 15 Vancouver City inside workers voted 73% to accept the recommendations for their specific issues.  But while CUPE 1004 Vancouver City outside workers voted 58% to accept the mediated recommendations, they require a 2/3 majority vote – so essentially CUPE 1004 Vancouver City outside workers are still on strike.  1004 pickets at City Hall and other locations, could also effectively keep CUPE 15 workers off the job on the outside of picket lines.

See my pictures on flickr.

Rejection vote, Oct 9th, Media cameras come out

Rejection vote, Oct 9th, Media cameras…

Here are some articles from the website

Foley's recommendations don’t pass CUPE 1004 vote: less than other civic deals

VANCOUVER — After 82 days on the picket-line, Foley’ recommendations
have not passed the test at CUPE 1004. Due to an existing CUPE 1004
by-law, the members need to accept the mediator’s recommendations by
two-thirds in order for it to bring an end to the strike. Only 58
percent of Parks workers accepted the recommendations and 57 percent of
City workers accepted the deal, which means Vancouver’s outside workers
remain on strike. [October 9, 2007 08:35 PM]

CUPE 15 members accept Foley's recommendations

VANCOUVER—Vancouver's inside workers followed the recommendation of
their CUPE 15 bargaining committee and voted 73 per cent to accept
mediator Brian Foley's recommendations for settlement. Over the past
two days, almost 2000 members voted. [October 9, 2007 07:08 PM]

CUPE 391 members reject mediator recommendations: call for “library-made” solution

VANCOUVER—Early this evening, members of CUPE 391, representing over
750 striking Vancouver library workers, voted 78 per cent in favour of
rejecting mediator Brian Foley's recommendation for settlement.
Throughout today more than 540 CUPE 391 members cast their vote. [October 9, 2007 07:03 PM]