Concordia Library Workers Begin Strike Actions

Library Building Picketed After Failed Negotiations

  • Library employees held their first picket line outside the library building on Thursday afternoon. Courtesy John Hutton

If you walked outside the library building on Thursday afternoon, you probably saw a picket line, complete with a marching band in red.

On Nov. 29, 2019 the Concordia University Library Employees’ Union voted for a limited strike mandate. This came after 18 months of unsuccessful negotiations. The employees are mandated to strike for a total of eight hours. Two and a half of those were used Thursday when the CULEU held its first strike action.

Negotiations surrounding work requirements for library employees have been taking place since May 2018. The university asked for conciliation, and the CULEU met with them twice in December and once on Monday. CULEU President, Kent Cluff, said the conciliation efforts were suspended following Monday’s meeting as they were “still facing the same major blockages.”

“Strike action is always the last resort and we certainly didn’t want it to get to this point. Our goal is to get a signed collective agreement […] we’re frustrated that so much time has been wasted,” he said.

The negotiations began when the university requested that amendments be made to Appendix A of their contract and change the qualifications needed for higher positions. The union has four job levels and people can seek promotions or a career path over time.

Courtesy John Hutton

“This has been like that since the union was put in place,” said Cluff.

“It’s something our union has fought for in the beginning and has fought to defend over time. The university has tried to change this in the past, and every time the union said no because it’s an important aspect of how we see our working conditions.”

The changes proposed by the university would severely restrict advancement possibilities for new employees, said Cluff. As the CULEU pushed back against this, the negotiations led nowhere, they said.

“The university made no real effort to negotiate anything in 2019, and that’s why in November we went to our members for a strike mandate and got it,” said Cluff.

After their eight hours are spent, the CULEU will have another general assembly to decide how to move forward, though they hope to get back to their place at the negotiation table and avoid further action.

The university declined to comment on any issue being negotiated, but said they “value the work performed by [their] library colleagues and are looking forward to continuing to work together to find a solution.”

“We are holding on to something very important to our union, and it is the employer’s demand that they refuse to negotiate on, and they certainly refused to accept our members’ mandate to reject it,” said Cluff.

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