BRADFORD, Ontario--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After 61 days on the picket line, Bradford West Gwillimbury Library workers and residents weren’t going to be silenced, said CUPE Local 905.
“Open the library!” chanted supportive residents and workers when Mayor James Leduc tried to cut the number of speakers during Council’s Open Forum on Tuesday, September 19, even taking the microphone away from community members.
“We’ve been on the line for two months and this is the fourth Council meeting we’ve attended to let them know that we need fair wages so we can reopen the library,” said 36-year Library employee Heidi Northover. “At the last Council meeting, the Mayor arbitrarily decided only 4 speakers were allowed during Open Forum. It’s been too long that the community hasn’t had their library and we weren’t about to be silenced again.”
“The Mayor walked out on us while a high school student spoke about how important the library was,” said CUPE Local 905 President Katherine Grzejszczak. “Councillor Harper even made a big show of turning his back when an LTC worker, and mother of three, was addressing him about the importance of the library. This is the third time a BWG Council member has called the police on library workers. Mayor Leduc tried directing the police to clear us out. It’s not a police matter that Open Forum was extended by 6 speakers. It’s about intimidating women who are fighting for fair pay.”
The 36 library workers have been on strike since July 21 for an annual wage increase of $1.35/hr in the last 2 years of their collective agreement.
“For 20 days, I sat at that table, I spoke at that table,” said Wendy Zwaal, CUPE Local 905 Unit Chair and a former member of the bargaining committee. “I was insulted, disrespected and bullied at that table. There was little negotiating going on unless you count the time we spent negotiating with ourselves. The tone was condescension, the message was rejection.”