20 Eglinton Ave. West
Suite 1109, PO Box 2053
Toronto, ON  M4R 1K8

Phone:
416.440.7981

Office Hours:
Mon-Fri 09:00 to 17:00

Why Unions?

Home / Issues / Why Unions?

Some associate unions exclusively with industrial or construction trades workers or those in manual labour occupations with low education requirements. But in Canada and elsewhere in the world, highly educated professional workers, especially those who work in the public sector, often belong to unions.

Equal Treatment

Library workers are dedicated to their profession. The years of post-secondary training it requires to become a professional Librarian with a Master’s degree are costly and not easily transferable to another occupation.

Librarians have made a significant investment in their careers akin to an investment in a house. Belonging to a union is a type of insurance that their investment will be protected against arbitrary treatment and that they will have input into their compensation and working conditions.

Many are willing to work part-time while waiting for a full-time position to open up. The years they spend working part-time should count towards their right to full-time work when it becomes available. Only a union can help ensure this.

Other classifications of library workers, such as Public Service Assistants, are in the same position as Librarians. They must be highly educated and typically have to work part-time for years before a full-time position opens up for them. Another classification – Pages – constitutes the single largest group of Toronto library workers. There are currently about 600 Toronto Public Library Pages. All work part-time and most are paid close to the Ontario Minimum Wage.

Since Toronto amalgamation in 1998, the public library workforce has decreased by ten percent while circulation has gone up by 25 percent. This is a very large productivity increase, per worker.

All the evidence is that the library workers’ union has contributed to the maintenance of an experienced, stable and dedicated workforce by ensuring fairness and security and promoting professional development.

Health and Safety

Any profession that interacts directly with the public carries some inherent risks. Ontario law, however, entitles all workers to a safe and harassment-free workplace.

The balance between service and safety can be a difficult one. In general, and certainly true at the Toronto Public Library, in order to save money, employers tend to do the absolute legal minimum to keep workers safe.

The primary concern for unions, on the other hand, is to keep their members safe. They achieve this by holding employers accountable to existing laws and by continually advocating and fighting for better and safer workplaces.

Unions are especially needed in workplaces with high levels of precarious part-time workers. Workers in these occupations are often seen as disposable. Too often workers are not aware of their rights or fear retribution from their employers if they make a complaint.

Violence against librarians on the riseEnsuring the safety of workers costs money. Decades of cuts, reduced funding and bad management have resulted in a Health and Safety crisis at the Toronto Public Library.

Violent and threatening behaviour by TPL patrons continues to increase at an alarming rate. TPL’s own figures show that between 2011 and 2018 violent/threatening incidents had increased by 140%.

With an employer who doesn’t take our health and safety concerns seriously, the need for a union at the Toronto Public Library has never been greater.

Read more about it here – a CBC article about violence in TPL

Members Login Here:

Member Site

Local Twitter

Local4948 local4948
@MannaWong22: "'Scarborough has been left out for some time. I want to make sure this is not the case, that the pandemic recovery is not on the back burner,' said Wong." Check out the @TorontoStar profile of the #Ward22 by-election and my campaign here: https://t.co/6QsNu1EjoW #TOpoli https://t.co/laWWFHeIfk
Local4948 local4948
@MannaWong22: A big THANK YOU to all the @progresstoronto volunteers making calls in support of our #Ward22 campaign today! Really appreciate your support and your commitment to a more progressive City Hall #TOpoli https://t.co/pdcoHmBrC3
Local4948 local4948
@MannaWong22: I’m grateful for the support of the Chinese Workers Network and endorsements from co-chairs @KingsleyKwok and Ling Jiang Li for my #Ward22 campaign. Thank you for your incredible advocacy to support workers in our community, especially throughout the pandemic. #TOpoli #canlab https://t.co/Bce520imOq
Local4948 local4948
@MannaWong22: Thank you for your support @TorontoACORN - at City Hall I’ll fight to make life more affordable for everyone in #Ward22 and work to ensure that new development projects bring more deeply affordable housing to our community #TOpoli https://t.co/BZQ2JFUZ1i
Local4948 local4948
@MannaWong22: I’m so grateful for the support of @feliciansamuel - a powerful advocate for public education, better transit and a fairer share of resources for Scarborough. She knows #Ward22 needs better representation and I’m honoured to have her support in the by-election. Thank you! #TOpoli https://t.co/HqwXqoyYR1