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Toronto Public Library workers on strike

After a marathon negotiation session, talks between CUPE Local 4948 have broken down and Toronto’s Public Library workers are officially on strike.

The 2,300 employees are now off the job and will hit the picket lines Monday, with a rally scheduled for noon at City Hall.

“Despite our best attempts and numerous extensions to the deadline, negotiations have stalled. If we want to protect library workers and the world-class services they provide, we find we are left with little choice but to take job action,” said CUPE Local 4948 President Maureen O’Reilly.

“We’ve made a number of concessions at the negotiating table with the union side that I thought would be acceptable to them, that I thought we would find some common ground today. We’ve had four extensions at the bargaining table since the original deadline of last night so we’re very disappointed that it’s come to this,” said Coun. Paul Ainslie, who chairs the library board.

Ainslie added that all 98 library branches will be closed while picketing is happening. All programming and drop-in classes will also be cancelled. In addition, people are asked not to try and return library materials. Fines will be waived during this period.

Job security was a major sticking point of the failed talks.

“The employer’s proposal make over half of our bargaining vulnerable to lay off,” said O’Reilly.

There could be even more labour trouble on the horizon. The union representing Toronto’s inside workers has announced it will hold a strike vote on Tuesday.

It’s estimated that at least 50 per cent of library workers are part-time. They have been without a contract since midnight on Dec. 31.