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Kitchener Public Library workers vote to unionize


Workers at the Kitchener Public Library have voted to unionize and join the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

In an interview Thursday, the day after the vote happened, library worker Hannah White said health and safety issues, compensation, and support from management are among workers' key concerns.

"We're facing a lot of the same things that many libraries are facing. There is just a real lack of funding across all levels of government that is affecting social services and people are coming to libraries more and more to fill those needs," White said. "Library workers are so happy to fill those services and needs however we can, but unfortunately compensation, training and sometimes support from higher-ups in our organization don't always match what we need to provide the best services we possibly can."

The decision was a long time coming for many of the workers, White said.

All five branches of the library voted to unionize.

“We have long felt the need to have a stronger voice in our workplace,” Joseph Brannan, one of library workers involved in the organizing drive, said in a release from CUPE.

“There are challenges in our workplace, but we all really love the work we do and the public we serve.”

CUPE represents workers in more than 55 municipal public libraries. It says low wages, favouritism, and health and safety concerns top the list of reasons why library workers are increasingly unionizing.

According to CUPE, in Kitchener and elsewhere, many of those health and safety concerns stem from the ongoing housing, opioid and mental health crises.

“Because all levels of government are failing to adequately address these issues, library workers are increasingly on the front lines because libraries are a warm, dry location that is open to the public,” it said.

In an email to CTV News, the KPL said it respects its workers’ decision.

“We value the critical work of all our staff and we are looking forward to working with CUPE to continue to deliver exceptional service to our community,” the library said. Top Stories

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