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Essex County libraries have now been closed for three months

Mayors must change their directive to library board for libraries to be opened again

As the Essex County Library strike enters its fourth month, the union representing the 58 library workers are urging Essex County to change their directive to the library board so libraries can be opened for the community’s children, adults and seniors.

“Libraries help open minds, but our elected leaders are closed-minded when it comes to finding a fair resolution to end this strike,” said Lori Wightman, unit chair for CUPE 2974. “Our union has responded to the employer’s sick time proposal 10 different times, all in an effort to end this strike that’s closed our libraries. However, the board has not moved off their core sick time position since before the strike. This is not bargaining. They are dictating terms and this has resulted in our residents not having access to their libraries for over three months now.”

According to the library board, their sick time demands are a directive from Essex County Council, trying to impose the sick time plan on county employees. “Even though sick time is not an issue at the libraries – the county is trying to force us to accept a plan that will not save any money and, in fact, will cost more to administer,” added Wightman. “We are asking county council to move off their sick time directive – so we can have meaningful bargaining and end this strike, so our libraries can be opened again.”

“Library workers are tired of county council using libraries as pawns in their broader scheme for county employees,” concluded Wightman.

All 14 Essex County libraries have been closed since the workers were pushed out on strike, on June 25 over a phantom sick time issue created by the library board and Essex County Council. By the end of this week, the strike will enter the 100-day mark.

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