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Toronto libraries a step closer to striking

Toronto Library's Beaches branch. Toronto's chief librarian has proposed service cuts to meet demands for a budget reduction.


Toronto is inching closer to a springtime strike, with the clock now ticking toward a work stoppage at the public library and talks with the city's inside workers described as "slow."

The province issued a "no-board" report Thursday, meaning 2,300 library employees will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. March 18.

"It's been extremely difficult," said Maureen O'Reilly, president of CUPE Local 4948. "The city is choosing to treat us all the same. It's difficult to get a dialogue going when there's no real appreciation of what the unique circumstances are at the library."

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The official declaration of an impasse in the library negotiations came on the same day city councillors received an update on the snail-like pace of talks with CUPE Local 79, the city's largest union.

"They've definitely been slow to this point," deputy mayor Doug Holyday said of the negotiations. "But we're still meeting with them so there's hope and there's still the possibility of an agreement and that's what we're aiming for."

Both sets of talks are unfolding against the backdrop of an agreement reached last month with CUPE Local 416, which received a raise but bent on job security and other provisions of the contract.

The library workers, 91 per cent of whom have already voted in favour of a strike, asked the province to declare a stalemate in talks last week.

"The library is continuing to bargain in good faith and is committed to a successful resolution of all issues," a library spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday.

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