On July 4, 2016, the members of CUPE Local 1989, Mississauga Library Workers, walked off their jobs and onto the picket lines. It was the first strike in our local’s history and the first strike against the City of Mississauga.
Three days earlier, in the largest turnout our local had ever seen, members voted overwhelmingly to reject the City’s final offer and exercise the most powerful tool that workers possess.
Why did we strike?
For fairness. For respect. For a living wage. You can read more about our issues here:
What did we gain?
- We brought our Pages, our lowest paid members and 25% of our membership, from slightly more than minimum wage to $15/hour in one leap.
- We fought off proposals from the City that would have pushed our part-time members — more than half our membership — further into precarity.
- We made small but significant gains for our part-time workers. We did not go nearly as far as we wanted for our part-timers, but we did improve their contract, and we set the stage for gains in future bargaining.
- We fought off City proposals that disrespected and burdened members who need sick time, and other outrageous demands.
- We won a 1.75% increase for all our members for each of four years. This is still below cost of living! The cost of living rises about 2% each year, and most workers fall farther behind every year. However, after 0.5% increases for three consecutive years, we were proud to win 1.75% for all our members, full-time and part-time.
Who pays for all this?
It must be said, too, that none of these changes affect the taxpayers of Mississauga in any way. Mississauga residents who question how their taxes are spent might look to the City’s soaring executive salaries, which now total nearly $2.5 million. Managers who earn six-figure salaries — and who enjoy healthy increases of 3%, 4%, and more every year — are also public employees.
So much of what we gained from our strike doesn’t appear in our collective agreement. The solidarity and strength we built, the deep connection our members now feel toward our union, the growth in our members’ confidence — we benefit from these changes every day, in ways large and small.
Our members found their voices, some for the first time. And once you find your voice, you never go back.
Thank you and beyond
Local 1989 is endlessly grateful to the people of Mississauga for their support. Library customers — the people who use the excellent services that we provide — overwhelmingly supported our goals.
So many residents called and emailed the City, that phone lines were jammed and email bounced from overflowing inboxes. Customers wrote to their Councilors, passionately defending our cause and calling on the City to offer us a fair contract.
Local 1989 is also forever grateful to the Canadian labour movement for the overwhelming support we received. CUPE Ontario, CUPE National, the Peel Regional Labour Council, Peel District CUPE Council, the Toronto Public Library Workers, the Peel Children’s Aid Society, the Brampton City Workers, York Region workers — the list goes on and on. We never could have done it without you, and more importantly, we never had to.