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Monday August 8th, 2016

Posted at 4:36pm

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Last updated: Monday August 8th, 7:05pm

Talks between the Essex County Library Board and CUPE 2974, representing Essex County Library Staff, broke off Monday afternoon after several hours of negotiations.

“We are extremely disappointed that we were unable to come to a resolution today” said Library Board Chair, Richard Meloche. “We value our employees and want them back to work to serve our communities, but we also need to be mindful of the taxpayer. We are ultimately trying to provide a contract that is fair and reasonable to employees, while being prudent with public funds and taking steps to implement a more contemporary sick leave program”.

The Library Board says that the new proposed sick plan remains a key issue at the table. “The current short-term sick plan is an antiquated system that hasn’t been reviewed or revised in close to forty years” said Meloche. “We are looking to implement a new plan that is fair, that will protect employees in times of illness, but one that is also modern and more in alignment with best practices and other public sector plans”.

The board also claims that CUPE 2974 was unwilling to consider the new plan. “The proposal brought forward by CUPE did not address the notion of adopting a more contemporary plan, nor did it address the concerns of the current plan” said Meloche.

The Union called today negotiations another wasted opportunity to end a strike that’s deprived residents of essential library services.

“We returned to the bargaining table with a new sick time proposal so we could start a dialogue to end this strike,” said Lori Wightman, unit chair for CUPE 2974. “Instead management showed no movement and stuck to their original sick time position from June 22.” The 58 library workers have been on strike since June 25 over a phantom sick time issue that even management admits is not an issue at the libraries.”

The union also points out that a neutral third-party arbitrator denied Essex County’s sick time position for another group of employees (Essex County EMS).

“Clearly they have an agenda to change the sick time plan at all costs – library services in Essex County have become a casualty of the County’s agenda,” said Wightman.

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