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Windsor Public Library workers worried expanded Sunday hours will come at a cost

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About a dozen Windsor Public Library workers held an information picket outside Windsor City Hall on Tuesday as contract negotiations between the city, Windsor Public Library Board and CUPE Local 2067 continue.

Talks began in January after the previous contract expired in December 2023.

According to the union, 70 library workers will be in a legal strike position as of midnight, June 30.

"Things aren't progressing as well as we'd hoped," said Local President Dan Rutherford. "We just want a fair deal. That's what we're looking for. That's what we've been asking for and that's what we're hoping to achieve."

Rutherford said there's concern over a proposal to expand Sunday services at all Windsor Public Library branches, worried that the change would come at the expense of other service hours during other days of the week.

"We're open to expanding them, but not at a net zero increase," Rutherford explained. "We're all for a true expansion if that's what the employer wants and the citizens of Windsor want. But, not at a net-zero increase. We are already stretched pretty thin at times, so to stretch us even thinner is a problem."

Rutherford said there's concern amongst staff that Sunday hours would become mandatory, suggesting library workers will lose the work-life balance they say they need to plan ahead for time with loved ones.

Currently, three branches, Central, Budamir and Riverside already have Sunday hours in place.

CUPE Local 2067 President Dan Rutherford outside Windsor City Hall ahead of a Windsor Public Library Board meeting on June 18, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

"With no additional funds, they will just shuffle around hours to open up on Sundays. So we will be losing hours that we are currently open," Rutherford added.

Library Board Chair and Coun. Mark McKenzie said the negotiating team was instructed by the board to bring forward a plan where Sunday services can be offered without impacting any other days of service.

"Hopefully we can come to an agreement that's fair for not only the workers, but also the residents of Windsor," McKenzie said. "We've been open about it. We've said, look, we're going to increase the hours at all our branches. We're going to increase our weekly hours. And we will by doing that, we're going to be investing more in our libraries. And we're actually going to be investing in our staff as well. And we'll actually have to hire some new staff to accommodate for those increase in hours."

McKenzie stated there's demand from library patrons that want Sunday hours in place.

McKenzie continued, "We're trying to look for consistency across the board. So we want people to know, if you go to the library on Sunday, it's going to be open. All branches are going to be open. And so that's one thing that we've been looking at is how can we make all libraries open on Sundays, and how can we also do that without reducing hours as well."

Rutherford noted negotiations with a mediator are scheduled to resume next Tuesday, while remaining hopeful a new deal can be reached before the June 30 strike deadline.

"We are hoping to get a deal done before then. We will be available every day to bargain if the employer is willing to bargain with us," Rutherford added. 

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