from the front lines, day three

Here are some highlights of the incredible support our strike action is generating:

1 - A customer called this morning. "Good morning, I am a library patron, just calling to say we support you. It is so hot today, would a donation of water be acceptable?" When we said yes, he said "OK, I will come by around 1:00 with 150 bottles of water." Wow!!

2 - We received an email from Kyle in Winnipeg, subject line "Solidarity!"
I work at the Winnipeg Public Library and am a member of CUPE 500. I wanted to send my solidarity to you in your fight for fairness.

We know the same struggle as you. As a part-time worker at the library I know how difficult it is to survive on the pittance that we are given. My hours per week also range from 12-20 a week but some part timers get as low as 6. It is basically impossible to live off it or get a second job. A lot of people are forced to leave jobs they love for economical reasons. When it was brought to the attention of our manager that workers can't live off the hours they're given she remarked, "that's not my concern."

You are fighting a fight for all library workers. I wish I could come out to the picket line to show my support for you directly. But I will do everything in my power from Winnipeg to give you support. You will win your fight.
3 - We were copied on this letter to Library Director Rose Vespa.
Dear Ms. Vespa:

The members of the Progressive Librarians Guild-GTA chapter wish to express their unreserved support for the members of CUPE Local 1989 as they enter into job action over the lack of a fair and equitable contract offered by the City of Mississauga.

More than half of the workers at the Mississauga Public Library work part time, with no benefits, paid sick time, or paid vacation. It is our understanding that the contract that was tabled addressed a pay increase, but that rings hollow when the majority of workers cannot make a living wage with part time hours.

Precarious work is a troubling trend and one that disproportionately affects women, young people, and newcomers, the very populations that public libraries seek to serve.

The very nature of precarious work makes it difficult, if not impossible, to properly connect with and serve community members.

We call on the Board to return to the table and address the demands of CUPE Local 1989 to offer a fair and equitable contract that values the important work of their membership.

With respect,
The membership of PLG-GTA
cc: CUPE Local 1989
4 - We received solidarity visits from...
- Chris Buckley, president of the OFL
- CUPE 79, Toronto
- DPDSB Local 2544
- Bob from a union shop, who dropped off apple fritters and walked the line with us.
- And of course our daily visit from our brothers in CUPE Local 66.

5 - CUPE National is creating a Strike Support Website for us, to tell all union members all across Canada how they can support us.

6 - Another email:
Good morning:

We at York University have posted the following statement:

"The librarians and archivists of the York University Faculty Association stand in solidarity with all our fellow library workers in CUPE 1989 in Mississauga who are now on strike, fighting against precarious labour and for fair pay and decent benefits.

"Public libraries are important in Mississauga, in Toronto, in every city and town in Canada, and every worker in every library deserves, at minimum, a reasonable salary and a stable working environment. We call on Mayor Bonnie Crombie and the board of the Mississauga Library System to reach a fair settlement with CUPE 1989 immediately."

William Denton,
Steward, Library Chapter,
York University Faculty Association
7 - Some observations from one of our couriers who stands strong for our union:
1) I can't believe how many caring and talented people work for the library. There are too many to name individually, but I see at least one of them being brilliant every single day. It stuns me that our Employer can be so willfully disrespectful to those who give so much of themselves seemingly as naturally as they breathe air.

2) It's ridiculous how our Employer has turned so many of its best and brightest against itself. There are incredibly dynamic library workers, and often it's these very folks who are channeling their boundless energies and exceptional levels of commitment into keeping our Union strong while standing up to the very organization they give their proverbial blood, sweat and tears to every day.

3) I love how united we are. We have 20+ year veterans picketing with fresh-faced newcomers. Librarians and senior librarians with (Level 2 pay-grade) couriers and Technical Services processors. Full-timers, part-time part-timers and pages. Everybody sounds passionate, committed, and fed up with always being treated as an afterthought.
8 - The video we shared recently is up to about 8,000 views and climbing. We've tweeted it to the City, of course. #saugastrike #WhereIsBonnie

9 - Speaking of Twitter, Mayor Crombie tweeted about the heat emergency in Mississauga. NOT FIVE SECONDS LATER, Peel District CUPE Council tweeted: "@BonnieCrombie there is an emergency right outside your office! Your librarians are on strike! Go talk to them!"

10 - If you have written to the mayor or your councillor and received an unsatisfactory answer, please don't worry. Everyone will receive the bland form letter. That's the City's public face. But in private, the letters and emails and phone calls are counted, and they will have an effect. We don't know when, we won't see it coming, but at some point the City will contact us. Until then, keep writing, emailing, and calling, and asking everyone else to do the same. You are making an impact.

Please sign our petition, and tell the City of Mississauga: Give your library workers a fair deal!

Bonnie Crombie, Mayor

John Kovac, Library Board / Council

Matt Mahoney, Library Board / Council

For more information, contact Laura Kaminker, President, CUPE Local 1989, at 647-200-1481.

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