Open letter from library workers being harassed out of their jobs

Home - Toronto Public Library Workers Union

Toronto Public Library Censoring Library Workers

We have chosen a career in libraries to make a positive difference in our communities. We work passionately everyday to provide access to information, employment skills, language learning, literacy, connectedness, and an enjoyment of life.

We worked throughout the pandemic without a vaccine available, and continued to fulfill our role as community stewards by setting up food kitchens; calling isolated seniors to check in on them; providing stressed out parents with resources to help their children cope; and ensuring library users would have still have access to materials.

However the City Librarian Vickery Bowles, along with HR Director Brian Daly, and HR Manager Louise Reimer, and nine other directors*, who make up part of the top eleven earners of public funds in the system, and who have worked from home throughout the entire pandemic, are now threatening, bullying and intimidating us with discipline, up to and including dismissal, for not disclosing our medical records and/or not choosing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Hundreds, if not thousands of us are now facing coercive policies that disregard foundational principles of library work, privacy and democracy. We wrote an email to those responsible for this policy, asking that they provide some transparency, and at minimum, meet the conditions for fully informed consent.

We asked these sunshine listed public servants to declare any conflicts of interest, and provide us with the meeting minutes related to the development of this policy, as a publicly funded institution is bound by their office to provide.

We asked direct, specific questions related to the legality of their COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, and have been dismissed, gaslit, and completely ignored.
Our medical and religious exemptions that we were assured would be honoured, have been denied, without cause.

So what is really going on? The Toronto Public Library is a safe environment as far as indoor spaces during a pandemic go. We have access to PPE, hand washing, and thorough sanitation protocols in place. We maintain respectful distances from the public and colleagues, and we participate in a COVID-19 screening every morning before work.

In the last ten weeks, only two COVID cases have been reported systemwide, both from FULLY VACCINATED STAFF!

This policy is clearly discriminatory, unscientific, and illegal. The Toronto Public Library is Canada’s largest library system, it serves diverse needs and diverse
people. If management seeks to dismiss all those who for either religious, political, philosophical, medical and/or other reasons, wish to reserve their right to privacy and/or not to have their employer make medical decisions for them, then that diversity will be extinguished.

How can a homogenous library staff effectively serve a diverse population!?
The Toronto Pubic Library outlines in its mission, values, and vision statement, the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Except now it seeks to exclude and discriminate against those who don’t want to share their private and lawfully protected health records. We wrote those responsible for this policy and sought clarity, and they gaslit us by completely
ignoring our concerns and not answering even one of our questions. They told us their policy meets “all legal requirements” without referencing what laws enable
these directors to make decisions concerning our bodies.

Management claim to be relying on “the City’s internal legal team” and when pushed further, tell us on record that they have “sincere beliefs” that this policy is legal.
However we are information professionals, and we demand real information. Answers to our questions, to point out which laws not “beliefs”, give management the confidence to think that they have any authority to rule over our private health decisions.

In 2019 the City Librarian Vickery Bowles made a public show of defending feminist Megan Murphy’s right to free speech, but now will not respect the right to medical freedom and privacy of library workers.

Vickery Bowles who claims to be a “social justice warrior” -has had sudden memory loss, and seems to have forgotten about the right to privacy, right to consent and right to choose or not choose a medical intervention, which is NOT and never has been a condition of our employment contract.

What Vickery Bowles, Brian Daly, and the rest of the directors are attempting to enforce is not only harmful, but it is illegal, and we have made them aware of this.
But perhaps because of their self-perceived power, they think we are disposable and that discriminating against a minority is somehow acceptable.

Many library workers have or are planning to retire early due to this policy; have gone out and gotten the jab through fear; at least one of whom has since developed a heart condition and fears the second shot; and/or have been feeling extreme anxiety and tension at the prospect of losing their job.

The public should know that while they may be able to access the library without proof of vaccination, their beloved library workers will soon be dismissed if they try to exercise that same right.

We have been not consulted on any aspects of this policy, our Local 4948 Union President Brandon Hayes is not representing us and we have been provided no forum for open discourse and to connect with our vast network of colleagues.
We are public servants dedicated to our communities-and we are being quietly attacked.

If you love the library and what it should stand for, freedom, democracy, and the right to privacy, please consider making your voices heard and letting these directors know.


*Directors Deciding the Fate of all Toronto Public Library Workers
(please note none of these individuals are licensed medical practitioners)

Vickery Bowles; City Librarian, $271, 594. 05
Brian Daly; Director of Human Resources, $175,466.20
Louise Reimer; Manager Human Resources, $142,199.95
Moe Hosseini-Ara; Director, Branch Operations & Customer Experience, $193,488.05
Angela Copeland; Director, Digital Strategy & CIO, $189,975.45
Elizabeth Glass, Director; Policy, Planning & Performance Management; $175,458.15
Alyssa van Graft; Director, Transformational Projects & Facilities, $189,975.45
Linda Hazzan; Director, Communications, $193,488.05
Larry Hughsam; Director, Finance & Treasurer, $193,488.05
Shawn Mitchell; Acting Director, Collections & Membership Services, $143,756.97
Pam Ryan; Director, Service Development & Innovation $193,488.05

If you would like to reach out to the librarians and library workers who are being censored please contact us here:

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