We, the professional librarians and archivists at York University, are disappointed by the treatment the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association has received from McMaster in collective bargaining, and disheartened to learn our colleagues were forced to a strike vote, which passed unanimously last week.
McMaster University Library and its librarians and archivists have suffered for years. We wrote a letter in May 2009 about the firing of two librarians and then again in June 2011 about then university librarian Jeff Trzeciak’s bad management and grim plans:
In particular we express our grave concern over the recent downsizing of professional staff, the casualization of labour at McMaster University Library, and the recent comments from Jeff Trzeciak, the University Librarian, diminishing the value and future of librarians at McMaster. Such comments provide clear evidence of a highly uncollegial and unsupportive work environment. We have previously written indicating our distaste for the organizational restructuring that led to the creation of new positions quickly deemed irrelevant and the subsequent firing of two highly respected senior colleagues. As new and even more worrisome issues grow increasingly apparent, we are compelled to write again.
Soon after that, MUALA was formed and negotiated its first collective agreement. Jeff Trzeciak left McMaster, and we expected the situation to improve. It could hardly get worse. But it appears it has, and again we express our grave concern and again we are compelled to write.
The concessions demanded are outrageous:
The employer seeks to:
- delete the requirement to use a Search Committee in the hiring process and the inclusion of members on the Committee
- delete substantial portions of procedures and criteria associated with promotions and evaluations
- delete the right not to do the work of other striking or locked-out employees
- exclude contributions to MUALA as professional service
- delete most MUALA rights to release time to engage in union activities
- exclude work with external organizations as part of academic service
These are a full-out attack on the academic status, roles and responsibilities of librarians and archivists at McMaster. It is shocking that McMaster would seek these concessions, and an embarrassment to it as a university in Canada. McMaster diminishes itself in every way, every year, by its continuing attack on its own library.
We request that McMaster University drop its concessionary demands and resume bargaining in good faith with the aim of a fair and equitable settlement that respects the important role librarians and archivists play at McMaster.
William Denton and Patti Ryan
On behalf of the librarian and archivist members of the York University Faculty Association