About 200 of us were on the picket lines today. Despite the blazing temperatures, our spirits were high. We waved our signs and our flags, showing our pride to every passerby.
I did interviews with the Toronto Star, CBC (we were at 6:00 PM), CTV, CP24, the Mississauga News, and the labour newspaper Rank and File. Here are some links:
News Talk 1010: Mississauga Libraries Closed Amid Strike
Benefits Canada: Mississauga Library Staff On Strike Over Pay And Benefits
In the battle for public opinion, I don’t think the City of Mississauga is looking too good.
CUPE Local 1989 has received a huge outpouring of solidarity and support from unions in Peel, Toronto, and indeed, throughout Canada. CUPE National President Mark Hancock called, and will visit from Vancouver soon.
CUPE Ontario is donating $5,000 to our strike fund. CUPE Local 831 (Brampton City workers) brought us water, signs, and goodie bags to give out to kids. CUPE Local 66 (Mississauga outside workers) stopped by. Labour activists from the Steelworkers and OPSEIU (college teachers) came from Toronto. Well-wishers were stopping by all day with water, freeze pops, and other necessities.
Tomorrow, the Canadian Labour Council, Peel Regional Labour Council, Toronto York Region Labour Council, and the Ontario Federation of Labour are rallying with us. And on and on it goes.
What’s the big fuss? Only that the members of CUPE Local 1989 are on the forefront of a struggle for justice taking place all over Canada. And – literally – all over the world.
Many customers stopped by our sign-in table today. The ones I saw were disappointed that the library was closed, but were very clear that they supported us anyway. One couple with three children were horrified to hear our issues, and asked, “How can we help?”
One customer left me a voice mail: she had gone to Meadowvale and Erin Meadows Libraries hoping to walk the line with us, and was disappointed not to find us there! I told her we were at Central and she said she’d be there tomorrow!
An unemployed Mississauga resident, originally from Sri Lanka, told me: “I depend on the library, and I’m sorry I can’t use it, but I am with you all the way. I support what you are doing. I miss the library, but I want to help you.”
These are only a few stories. There are many, many more. Most customers are behind us. They love their libraries, but they trust us and respect us, and know we are doing what we must.
Fairness and Respect
Why does our strike resonate so well with the public? Why is the media attention we receive so friendly? Because everyone recognizes injustice when they see it.
When workers receive a 0.5% increase and the Library Director receives a 7.3% increase …
When that Director’s increase amounts to more than what many of our lowest-paid workers – 28% of our membership – earn in a full year …
When work done in Mississauga pays under $12/hour and the same work in Brampton pays almost $19/hour …
When workers must come to work sick and ailing, because they lack paid sick time …
When a City Manager earning $280,000 annually sits across the table from a union representing 112 workers earning below the poverty line, and tells us: “There’s no more money. I guess you’ll have to strike.” …
When there seems to be money for everything the Library wants – the new technology, the automation, the renovations – but staff is told to make do …
It’s time to fight back.
Please support us! Sign our petition, and tell the City of Mississauga: Give your library workers a fair deal!
Bonnie Crombie, Mayor
John Kovac, Library Board / Council
Matt Mahoney, Library Board / Council
For more information, contact Laura Kaminker, President, CUPE Local 1989, at 647-200-1481.