Edmonton public library plans closure in advance of possible strike

Edmonton’s public libraries have announced plans to close in advance of a looming strike deadline by thousands of city workers.

The branches plan to close their doors Thursday at 11 a.m., the same time that 5,200 members of the Civic Service Union are slated to begin a strike over contract negotiations.

The potential strike would involve library staff as well as administrative staff for the Edmonton Police Service and the city’s municipal government.

Those preparing to strike include emergency 911 operators as well as those who conduct criminal record checks and firearms renewals.

Affected city staff include help−line operators, recreation centre staff, accounting employees and clerks.

The union has not had a contract since 2020 and is looking for a three−year deal that would cover up to 2023 with a five−per−cent raise.

The city has said service impacts are expected. However, fire and rescue, transit, construction, snow−clearing and waste collection will continue.

“We are prepared to respond to the labour disruption, and contingency plans are in place to minimize service disruptions," city manager Andre Corbould said Monday in a release.

The library says its online services will remain active. Due dates for library materials have been extended and no late fees will accrue.

"(The library) is a vital hub for learning, resources and social connection for our customers," said CEO Pilar Martinez. "The temporary closure of our branches will be a sad day for our employees and Edmontonians.”

The last strike by the Civic Service Union was in 1976.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2024.

The Canadian Press

Photo: The library