[Editor’s note: There was an error in the e-newsletter that pointed to this article. To be clear, it was Garry Larouche and not Gary Sparvier who attended the last meeting of Local 00381.]
During the last meeting of the executive, we unfortunately had to say goodbye to two of our Locals. In the Northwest Territories, Local X0305 saw its functions transferred to the territorial government; in Toronto, all the members of Local 00381 were laid off.
Sandy Bello, an assistant regional vice-president in Ontario, was there for Local 00381’s final meeting – a rather solemn occasion.
“The entire facility – offices and warehouse, was stripped of furnishings, records and shelving,” explained Bello. “There was a ‘for sale’ sign on the lawn, outside the front door.”
Remarking on the photographs they shot that day, Bello added, “If you think the walls are bare – they were!”
The Local was made up of Library and Archives Canada employees who were responsible for storing government records. Since the department removed that function from its mandate, four regional records centres were nixed.
“The decision was made to shut down the centres that don’t have archival offices attached to them,” explained Andy Yung, an assistant regional vice-president in British Columbia. “Library and Archives doesn’t consider records with no archival value worth keeping.”
In the past, all government publications and documents were stored by Library and Archives Canada. The government’s policy will likely lead to a decrease in transparency, since there’s a risk that important documents that shaped Canadian history will be lost forever.
Since each department will be responsible for housing their own dormant records, researchers will undoubtedly see their work become more difficult. The Canadian public is already grappling with less access to our heritage; and there are fewer services being provided by the department.
If you think these changes are being made in the name of saving taxpayers money, you’d be wrong. Most functions have been contracted out to a private company; we’re paying more for less access.
It’s these changes that led to about 15 members in Toronto having to find work elsewhere in the federal government or retire. Among these members was Jerome Varney, who had been president of his Local for over 25 years.
During the meeting, Varney was presented with a certificate of appreciation and a UNE hoodie. Joyce Hendy, a UNE life member and a recipient of our human rights award, and Garry Larouche, regional vice-president, were also in attendance.
Local 00381 was officially dissolved during our recent national executive meeting. The motion was put forward by Regional Vice-President Garry Larouche, who provided some background about the members who were affected.
“The members of that Local did their job well and they were very proud of the work they did,” said Larouche.
Remarking on the final meeting, the regional vice-president characterised it as being “a very sad day – an emotional day.”
Photos of the last meeting of Local 00381 are on our Flickr page.