CUPE 410 member suspended, local walks out for a day

    In dispute's latest twist, Employer cites 'food for fines' job action as
    grounds for discipline

    VICTORIA, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - A "food for fines" program that Greater
Victoria Public Library workers initiated before the holiday season - and
which was endorsed by management despite being part of a job action - has now
resulted in the suspension of a library employee and a one-day shutdown of all
GVPL branches in support of that worker.
    The union, which represents public library workers in the Capital region,
is picketing all nine branches of the GVPL today.
    "Food for fines is a legitimate strike action," says CUPE 410 president
Ed Seedhouse, describing the practice of waiving outstanding late charges and
other fines in exchange for contributions to local food banks.
    "Disciplining our members for such activity violates the collective
agreement between the parties and the Labour Relations Code. By walking out
today, we are simply doing what is necessary to protect our members."
    In a letter to GVPL chief executive Barry Holmes, the Union has asked the
Employer to stop disciplining or threatening to discipline members of CUPE 410
for participating in "food for fines", and to rescind discipline already
imposed on CUPE members.
    The Union is pointing to the example of Farwest Handydart Services Inc.
and Local 3 of the Independent Canadian Transit Union to support the legality
of the "food for fines" job action. In that case, the arbitrator found that
the drivers' refusal to collect fares was lawful strike activity - for which
employers are not entitled to discipline employees.
    "What is most galling about this suspension is that the Employer
previously endorsed the waiving of fines when it characterized 'food for
fines' as a 'joint initiative' or a 'GVPL campaign'. It did this in an e-mail
on November 28, on its web page, and in a CBC radio interview," says
    CUPE 410 is in the process of drafting an unfair labour practice
complaint to the LRB.

For further information:

For further information: Ed Seedhouse, CUPE 410 president: (250)
588-9565; Tammy Simonds, CUPE representative: (250) 812-7197; Dan Gawthrop,
CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132;

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