Letter: “Shame” on City for Leaving Library Workers in the Lurch

Not offering an increase to EPL workers is the height of City incredulity
Edmonton Public Library — Woodcroft

Re: “City Walks Away From Negotiating Table, Triggering the Strike Clock

It is distressing to learn that Civic Service Union 52 in Edmonton, which includes the Edmonton Public library, is at the cusp of taking a strike vote. This, while these workers have not had a raise in a number of years, and while City Council members have had their own salaries raised.

While I recognize similar problems besetting all City workers, it is useful to use the Edmonton Public Library as a model example, as I know it quite well and benefit greatly from it. This situation is untenable for them as well as for thousands of citizens like me, who not only depend on the EPL for significant benefits, but have viewed it for years as one of the finest (if not the finest) of City institutions that we have had the pleasure of counting on, and that so many of us use almost daily. The EPL and its branches are the epitome of excellence in service to its clients. Its hard working and helpful staff, its vibrant and extensive collection of reading, audio and visual material, its professional organization and systems, truly comprise a model. As an example, the’ ability to choose a desired item on the library’s website that may exist only in one or two other branches and have it delivered to one’s home branch in a matter of two or three days (and advised of its arrival by email), is a service I find unequalled by any other City institution.

These services are critical for citizen education, knowledge enhancement and cultural benefit, to name only a few. In addition, EPL organizes significant events and talks on a regular basis, covering topics of much use to so many Edmontonians, and many especially programmed for children and youth. Moreover, citizens are not directly charged for this service, so that all, including those who may not be able to afford that fee but may need EPL services the most, are not deprived of these extraordinary benefits.

Given what EPL does for us, not to have their salaries raised for a number of years, in the midst of continuing years of high inflation, is nothing if not incredulous, negligent, and hurtful. This, while City Council continues to raise its own salaries and our property taxes, and wastes millions on questionable projects. Meanwhile, the talented and extraordinary staff members of EPL and all its branches, who provide all Edmonton citizens with necessary and superlative service, are left in the proverbial lurch. For shame!

Morris Maduro, Ph.D
Retired Professor of International Law and Politics
Universities of Alberta and Regina (RET)