Saturday, August 25, 2007
Call me a naive, library-loving fool, but I don't see any reason why Vancouver's striking public library workers shouldn't be given every single thing they want. It is 2007, so you'd think you could go around assuming that nobody really believes female-dominated professions are worth less because they are, well, female-dominated? Apparently municipal governments think just that. You might also think auxiliary workers, who do the same work as regular employees, should be entitled to earn pro-rated benefits, but apparently they, too, are second-class citizens. And when you consider that the mayor and city council give themselves pay increases automatically (apparently in Vancouver they don't even have to vote an increase for themselves, to avoid embarrassing publicity: the increase just kinda shows up in their paycheques every January)--and this year the mayor gave huge raises to all his cronies, the senior managers in Vancouver's city bureaucracy, well, you get the picture. Meanwhile he's been claiming library workers don't need a pay increase because they get 50 days of holiday a year. What's he smoking? They get about 20.
I will say, though, that this is the most creative picket line I've ever been on. People bring kids and dogs, they have speakers, music, and literary events right on the library steps. What a great idea! I'd like to think this little guy was engrossed in Stan Persky's outstanding reading Friday afternoon, but I think he was concentrating on getting every drop of juice out of that box.
They get support from the Button Lady, Melva of Bablyon Buttons. The scene above took me back in time. Melva's been making buttons for, if I'm not mistaken, 22 years. She made the first ones in her bedroom in an apartment we shared on Victoria Drive.
Then there's the knitters. About 40 members of CUPE 391 have been knitting with donated yarn on the picket line. Most of the hats are being sent to homeless shelters in the Downtown Eastside, but some are being sold to benefit the hardship fund. I bought one for Winnifred, who is surprisingly fussy about the kind of wool hat she will and will not wear. I thought this one fit the bill, and apparently so did she.
I didn't manage to get a picture of the bike pickets, a bunch of library workers who go from one branch to another spreading energy and good cheer; or of the skateboarders, handstands, and other stuff for amusing the kids. Sometimes there are guitar lessons and there's been at least one accordion. They do tai chi in the morning and have laptops to answer directional questions for lost tourists. So Vancouverites: get out on the picket lines and give your librarian a hug. After five weeks they're getting awfully sunburned out there. Drop a few bucks in the hardship fund pushke. And remember to write city council and the mayor to voice your displeasure.