A major city workers’ union is considering strike action that could lead to closure of libraries and other disruptions to City services.
Civil Service Union 52, which represents 5,000 City employees including Edmonton Public Library workers, clerical staff and numerous other employee groups, held an informal strike vote earlier this month that saw members vote 86 per cent in favour.
CSU 52 has been in bargaining for nearly two years, following five years of no pay increases, and the city has so far not budged on its offer of zero, one-per cent and two-per cent increases across three years – an offer union president Lanny Chudyk says his workers “adamantly” oppose.
“If we’re forced to do a work stoppage, we’ll be taking out pretty much everybody that is a CSU 52 employee, which would certainly impact the City’s operation, there is no doubt,” Chudyk says. “Our members serve every function in the city of Edmonton – IT, payroll, planning, safety codes, 911 call eval, police dispatch.”
The union has posted on its website that it is offering a strike captain training course Nov. 10. The union and the city jointly petitioned the Alberta Labour Relations Board for a mediator this week, a process that will likely take place in mid to late November. If both parties can’t come to an agreement, there will be a 14-day cooling-off period, after which the union can take an official strike vote.
This could potentially put libraries out of commission in winter, at a time when they serve as critical temporary shelter spaces for unhoused Edmontonians. The city could potentially run some key libraries with managers who are not part of the union, and Chudyk suspects key locations like the Stanley A. Milner downtown may remain open, though that would be up to the City.