CUPE 4959 and the Creston Library Association have signed off on a new collective agreement that includes a range of provisions and expanded benefits. Chief Librarian Saara Itkonen says the agreement is fair and notes the positive effect it will have on local wages.
“I think it’s a very fair agreement. One of the big concerns it addresses is the library’s wages and currently, our library staff are at the lower end for wages in the Kootenay Library Federation. So it’s really a long time coming.”

The new five year agreement features a 10 per cent cumulative wage increase. Itkonen says this provides stability: “It’s not enough to get on par with a lot of other library systems, but we can only do what’s within our means.” Itkonen explains, “Even with our current agreement we still need to get creative with our funding.” Having come from Vancouver, Itkonen says the Vancouver Public Library’s budget was $43 million whereas Creston’s sits just below $500,000.

The agreement also expands the rights and benefits of staff that may be in same-sex relationships and introduces new policy and procedures to prevent or respond to workplace harassment. Itkonen says these factors are important in order to garner an open and safe environment, especially one as public as the local library. With that, Itkonen says negotiations went well and says they were vital to keep libraries alive in smaller communities.