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Cowichan branch of VIRL behind picket lines as BCGEU librarians escalate job action - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

BURNABY, B.C. (COAST SALISH TERRITORIES) – Members of the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) working as librarians for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) are on the picket line at VIRL's Cowichan Branch (2687 James Street in Duncan) today. The picket is the first step in escalated job action from the librarians who are awaiting response to their latest counteroffer from the employer via the Labour Relations Board mediator.

BCGEU librarians have been without a contract since December 2020 and have experienced significant delays to bargaining from the employer. They are seeking a deal that aligns their compensation with other libraries in the province and reflects the rising cost of living across Vancouver Island.
"To be clear: librarians do not want to picket – they want to be at work serving their communities," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "Our members' demands are fair and reasonable. VIRL has the power to end our job action and restore library services for the people of the Cowichan Valley. "
The union's picket will be in effect from 9 am to 8 pm. The union is asking library users to support their job action by joining them on the picket line or refusing to cross it should VIRL choose to keep the branch open. Librarians are also calling on the VIRL Board of Trustees to encourage the employer to provide a fair offer and return to negotiations.
Librarians provide critical community services to a variety of populations including access to Internet for seniors and literacy skills for children and families. They have also been serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic amidst the province's opioid crisis, affordable housing crisis, mental health crisis and climate-related disasters.
For more information, including previous media releases and picket updates, visit
BCGEU spokesperson Jennifer Seper will be available Wednesday for interview at VIRL's Cowichan branch in Duncan between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm. Email [email protected] to arrange an interview.
The BCGEU is B.C.'s most dynamic, diverse, and fastest growing union -- representing more than 82,000 members who work in every sector of the economy and live in every community across the province including the 48 librarians who work for the Vancouver Island Regional Library.