Vancouver Public Library becomes living wage employer after voting to reclassify staff position

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      The Vancouver Public Library is preparing to submit its own package to be certified as a living wage employer—to the financial benefit of 13 percent of its employees.

      The library has been in the process of reclassifying the job title, responsibilities, and wages for its shelvers, a position held by 109 of the library’s approximately 800 staff members. The library board voted to implement a living wage policy on May 24, after raising the wages for shelvers on April 1.

      “We no longer have any internal, direct employees that are not receiving the living wage,” chief librarian Sandra Singh told the Straight over the phone.

      Prior to this April, shelvers at the library were making between $16.87 and $17.54 per hour. With additional financial support from city council totalling $161,000, shelvers have been reclassified as library service assistants and had their combined wages and benefits raised to $20.62 per hour.

      As a separate employer from the City of Vancouver, the library has not yet been certified by the Living Wage for Families campaign as the city was earlier this month. Singh said the final step is to submit the living wage employer package to the campaign and await its certification, which she predicted will happen sometime in July.

      Singh expressed gratitude for the city’s support during the process, which included approval of a sizable budget increase for 2017.

      “We’ve really appreciated Vancouver city council and staff leadership on the living wage. They’ve offered a lot of support and guidance,” said Singh.

      Contract security guards are the only class of workers at the Vancouver Public Library who are not currently earning a living wage, as they are employed under the city’s security contract. The city’s updated procurement policy stipulates that contracts formed before May 1 of this year are not subject to a change in wages until they expire, and will then be retendered to meet living wage requirements.