Sunday marked one week that Toronto Public Library workers have been on strike. To recognize the occasion, The Writers’ Union of Canada hosted a rally and read-in to support CUPE Local 4948 (the Toronto Public Library Workers’ Union). Chris Dart, a reporter with Torontoist, describes the tone at the gathering as one of “cheerful rage.”
After months of negotiations and a number of pushed deadlines, on March 18, TPLWU president Maureen O’Reilly announced that the union could not come to an agreement with the municipal government. The bone of contention, she said, was job security for TPL’s 2,300 library workers. With a significant proportion of staff made up of part-timers, O’Reilly said any deal that doesn’t protect workers from library closures, layoffs, and privatization would leave 70 per cent of TPL employees vulnerable.
All library branches and dropboxes have been closed since March 19, and all library programming and events have been cancelled until further notice. The library has encouraged patrons to keep materials until strike action has ended (late fines will not be charged for the duration of the strike).
The TWUC rally is just one of many events that took place over the past week in support of library workers. Click through the slideshow below for highlights from the week’s strike action.