The union representing Saskatoon Public Library workers has ratified a tentative collective agreement that involves improved leave provisions and wage increases.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2669 has been in bargaining with the union since the last contract expired on Dec. 31, 2016. The new contract, covering 270 library workers at nine branches, will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

It provides all employees with more paid compassionate and bereavement leave. Previously, workers had up to five days of paid leave per year. The new contract gives employees five days of paid compassionate leave per occurrence to deal with an immediate family member’s emergent or life-threatening accident or illness.

Read: Union agreement for legal aid workers includes vision care, sick leave

In addition, employees have five days of paid bereavement leave per occurrence, which can be taken consecutively or non-consecutively. Grandparents and grandchildren have been added to the language of who’s considered an immediate family member.

The new contract also includes three retroactive wage increases between Dec. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2019, along with a 1.75 per cent increase between Jan. 1, 2020 and the end of the contract.

And it brings circulation assistants — entry-level, part-time staff who shelve and return books — under the collective agreement’s leave provisions, and sets out a new sick leave benefit for them. The change is part of a broader move to bring circulation assistants into the fold, says Rhonda Heisler, a national representative for the CUPE.

“Every time that we bargain with the library . . . we try to bring the circulation assistants more and more into the collective agreement, because years ago they were out of scope,” she says. “We’ve been working at this for a number of years.”

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Circulation assistants were previously required to meet a minimum threshold of 15 hours per week on average to be given five shifts of sick leave per year. In the new contract, assistants who work less than 10 hours per week can take two shifts per year, those working between 10 and less than 20 receive five shifts and those working more than 20 hours a week get eight shifts per year. Heisler estimated circulation assistants form at least a third of the bargaining unit.

These employees can also now access staff development and training, more leave without pay per year and employer-paid union leave if they want to sit on a joint committee.

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

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