Library workers in Mississauga, Ont. went on strike at midnight after pay and benefits negotiations with the city fell through over the weekend.

The motion by members of CUPE Local 1989 resulted in the temporary shutdown of 18 public libraries. The union is dissatisfied with the city’s proposed 1.5 per cent wage increase after receiving 0.5 per cent increases in the past two years, according to Laura Kaminker, president of the union.

They are also seeking higher wages for library pages who currently earn $12 dollars an hour along with benefits for part-time employees such as paid sick days, bereavement leave or vacation time.

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“It’s very hard [for part-timers],” says Kaminker. “Some people come in to work sick because they can’t afford not to. It’s a disgrace.”

Part-time library workers make up more than half of the union and their presence will only increase because part timers are replacing the increasing number of library workers retiring, says Kaminker. On average, the part-time employees work eight to 12 hours a week with unstable schedules.

According to the union, the city is also pressuring part-time employees to work every Saturday rather than every other Saturday.

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“My members feel extremely disrespected,” says Kaminker, adding the union is outraged over the library director’s 7.3 per cent salary increase. “They feel our work is extremely devalued, not by our customers who love the programs we provide, but by the employer.”

There’s been no announcement on when negotiations between the workers and the City of Mississauga might resume, but the city issued a statement saying it’s working for a “collective agreement that is fair and competitive to our employees and our taxpayers.”

Library patrons won’t incur any late fees during the strike, and online services, such as e-books, will still be available.

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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