A Better Future for
HRM Library Workers

Dear co-workers and members of Local 14:

We are a group of rank-&-file Local 14 members that desperately care about the future of our Union. The writing is on the wall; NSUPE is broken. Local 14 deserves better, & we believe switching parent-Unions to SEIU Local 2 will be the only way for library workers to win the wages increases & wide gains we desperately need in upcoming collective bargaining with HPL.

For years, if not decades, NSUPE has been diminishing in power, resources, & capacities – but last year alone – approximately 900 members from two large Halifax-based Locals 12 & 13 voted to leave NSUPE. Given the weakening viability of NSUPE, Shelby Kennedy, then-NSUPE President & acting Executive Director, approached SEIU to explore a proposal for a democratic merger of both Unions as a way to preserve members’ resources & to keep the remaining Locals unified. Despite the proposal being brought forward within the parameters of Union constitution, NSUPE’s executive council swiftly removed Shelby in her President position, squashed the merger, & ultimately, robbed us, the general membership, from ever hearing, discussing, or voting on the proposal. Local 14 members deserve better than NSUPE’s offerings of: expired contracts, delayed bargaining timelines, non-existent training resources, ineffective governance, toxic culture of in-fighting, failure to retain staff, its chronic lack of capacity & overall inconsistency. With skyrocketing inflation & the high cost of living in the HRM, Local 14 members need a strong, cohesive, & organized parent-Union that will train & support us in winning wage increases, staffing minimums, & so much more at the bargaining table. Too much is at risk for us to negotiate with a weak & deteriorating parent-Union. It’s not too late. There’s a short window of time (called an ‘open period’) for us to switch parent-Unions to SEIU Local 2 & make major wins at the bargaining table. The first step is to sign an SEIU union card. Once enough cards are signed, a vote will be hosted by the NS Labour Board so that all of us can choose. Come out to one of our upcoming information sessions  or contact any of your co-workers below if you have any questions or want to get involved in rebuilding a stronger Local 14.

In solidarity, 

Your co-workers (members of the SEIU Local 2 Organizing Committee),

Shelby Kennedy

Elliott Gish

Art Bouman

Shannon Hansen

Alexander Hagen

Kaitlyn Alderman

Laura Walton

Forbes MacQuarrie

Rachel Lebowitz

Pam Long

Tristan Burns

EsRaa Mahmoud

Sherri Butcher

Worker Voices

EsRaa Mahmoud
Service Advisor

The decision to change unions can’t be made by a small group of members. Our union is about every single one of us! Everyday I see members who were never engaged with our Union before, now getting involved for change. We are stronger together!”

Pam Long
Service Support

I’ve never felt that my voice was being heard by NSUPE and I know I’m not alone in this. When you aren’t heard, and especially when you are the lowest-paid members, you feel vulnerable. We need a union like SEIU 2 that will go to bat against management when workers’ rights are being violated.”

Sherri Butcher
Facilities Specialist

Staff should feel protected, supported and represented within their own union. Do you feel this way? If the answer is no, it is ok to explore another option. Other union members or management should never make you feel bullied or scared. It is time for change!”

Rachel Lebowitz
English Language Learning & Adult Literacy Specialist

With SWP, COVID, and soaring inflation, life has gotten harder for many of our members and especially for the lowest-paid. You deserve better. SEIU’s educational programs will give shop stewards training so they can better support members in each branch. Together, we will help build a better workplace for all.”

Comparison Table


SEIU Local 2

Member Support & Training


Slow bargaining timelines.

Chronically expired contracts resulting in a careless attitude about retro-pay despite workers needing money-earned now!

Single day lecture-style union advocate trainings offered once a year.

No stewards / advocate program or consistent officers’ training.

No regulation of training-standards for those acting as Union advocates/officers.


Doesn’t allow for months-long expired contracts.

Mandatory union stewards training ranging from 101 to advanced levels.

Multi-day Leadership Academy for Union representatives on labour history & today’s social movements.

Multiple departments (i.e. Education, Research, Communications, Organizing), that mobilize to support Locals in preparing for negotiations such as researching industry standards, media training, strike-readiness, etc.

Union Staff & Dues


In 2022, NSUPE went from four staff to zero because of its failure to retain staff & struggled to hire for its vacant positions. 

No staff lawyers. Instead, NSUPE has exclusive ties to a single law firm, which is abnormal & unusual.

1.35% dues.

No strike pay or strike policy.


SEIU Local 2 has a 50-person staff ready to be mobilized on behalf of its members: 15 business agents, 17 organizers, 10 administrative staff, 5 legal professionals, a researcher & a communications specialist.

Current dues will be frozen at rate at 1.35% for 5 years, then rise to 2%.

No initiation fees are charged. Strike pay is $300/week, increasing to $350, if 4+ weeks.

Organizing & Growth


Locals 12 & 13 voted to leave NSUPE, as a result, NSUPE has lost half its members, incoming dues & size/power.

No full-time organizers nor effective organizing committee, strategy, budget.

Years-long, inactive Executive committees (i.e.. Women’s, Volunteer Appreciation, etc.)


SEIU Local 2 is one of the fastest growing unions in Canada at 18,000-strong.

One of the only unions in the Maritimes willing to organize non-union workers, especially in the private sector.

Committed to building a strategy for a NS-wide library union to raise union-density, wages & benefits for all.


How will NSUPE respond?

SEIU is not the big scary American business union that NSUPE claims it is. All dues/resources stay within Canada & are reinvested into members. There’s an office in downtown Dartmouth with strong locals in almost every sector in NS ranging from public schools to casinos to grocery stores. SEIU is proud to be part of an international labour movement, building solidarity across borders & defeating transnational corporate bosses!

Shelby Kennedy
Programming & Events Specialist

Have we researched other Unions?

When we researched & met with other Unions, it was quickly clear to us that SEIU was the ideal fit for Local 14. SEIU is unique for its training infrastructure & sector-based organizing approaches to building union density/power. SEIU has committed to organizing non-union library workers across NS, which would improve working conditions for all.”

Elliott Gish
Adults Specialist

Local 14 has so much to gain from SEIU’s officer and stewards training programs, allowing us to better serve & advocate for our members directly. At NSUPE, only union staff are trained & authorized to file grievances on behalf of our members. We need to be member-led.”

Shannon Hansen
Community Navigator

What will happen to Local 14's autonomy
& decision-making practices?

SEIU Local 2 has a deep tradition of respecting branch-Local autonomy! If we join SEIU, Local 14 would remain its own independent Local, with an elected seat at the national Executive Board. Our democratic traditions, such as electing our negotiations’ committee, would all remain unchanged.”

Laura Walton
Service Advisor

SEIU has committed to freezing Local 14’s current dues rate for five years. If we join SEIU, members will continue to pay 1.35% union dues for five years, and then dues will rise to 2%. This is the difference of approximately $65 for every $10,000 that you earn.

Strike pay is $300/week. If the strike lasts longer than four weeks, it will increase to $350/week. Usually, strike pay increases every Convention to match the rise in the cost-of-living.

If we choose to join SEIU, all NSUPE positions will come to an end. However, all members are eligible to be elected on the negotiations committee or Branch-Local executive.

Currently, Local 14 members do not yet have a negotiations proposal nor an elected negotiations committee. The content of membership surveys and what members want to see in their bargaining proposals won’t change too much, if at all, given that our workplace issues remain the same. Within 10 days of Local 14 voting YES, SEIU commits to hosting a general meeting to elect a union negotiations committee, as well as map out a plan for bargaining on an expedited timeline. The elected committee will be our interim elected leadership in Local 14 until the conclusion of negotiations as a way to ensure strong unified union leadership. Once negotiations conclude, we will be able to elect our own Executive, implement Branch-Local by-laws. SEIU will immediately conduct stewards training.

If we join SEIU, our current Collective Agreement comes with us.

From SEIU’s researcher’s preliminary count, there are approximately 20,000 library workers across SEIU International. In Nova Scotia, SEIU represent library workers in public schools and academia, including at Acadia University and NS regional centres for education.

No. However, some SEIU members continue to directly contribute dues to the Union in lieu of paycheque deductions as a way to demonstrate their ongoing collective contributions to their co-workers.

Yes. In addition, SEIU has a staff arsenal of five legal professionals, including a peer-review committee which involves the support of a retired labour lawyer. SEIU regularly retains the law firm, Pink Larkin in Halifax for additional legal support as required.


No. SEIU does not charge initiation fees with the exception of certain Branch-Locals, including those where it is common in their sector. The autonomy of the Branch-Local is respected by SEIU in their decision to charge initiation fees.

Changing unions may cause a small delay to our negotiations – mostly due to the result of a slow Labour Board in NS. That said, in Nova Scotia, notice for bargaining can occur as early as 6 months before the expiration of a collective agreement. It will soon be a year since NSUPE has let our current collective agreement expire, and negotiations with HPL have still not begun. Changing unions isn’t to blame for chronically delayed bargaining timelines within Local 14. If there are any delays, it will more than offset the increase in bargaining power we will receive by joining SEIU. SEIU understands that many workers are desperate for wage increases and improvements to their conditions. SEIU will do everything to support us in facilitating an expeditious bargaining while helping us build strong majority engagement during this critical time.

Reach out to SEIU! SEIU wants to support workers and members in improving their lives and workplaces so that they never have to work multiple part-time jobs just to make ends meet.

A democratic process for members to collectively choose between various unions was attempted twice, and thwarted both times by NSUPE. The first time was when the merger process failed. Then-representatives Art Bouman and Shelby Kennedy offered to explore other Unions for NSUPE to merge with. In response, NSUPE Executive Council swiftly impeached Shelby. A second attempt was made during the Local 14 general meeting in December, when rank-and-file members requested to create a working group to research other Unions. At the time, the Executive was supportive of the idea, but then a couple weeks later, they sent explicit notice that they would not be allocating any more time at meetings to discuss this matter and stated they made the decision to stay with NSUPE.

There are many reasons for this Article as a result of tried and tested strategies for building worker-power through bargaining and (the threat of) legal work-stoppage. At SEIU, members elect their own negotiation representatives who work hard to bargain the best deal they can for their co-workers. Revealing negotiation updates in advance of a ratification vote often leads to a de-escalation of membership-engagement, rather than an escalation during the only window of time that workers can yield legal strike action. Let’s be clear: no one wants to strike, ever. And it’s only possible for a Union to strike if given a majority mandate by its members. The simple reality is that the threat of legal strike-action is one of the most powerful tools in the workers’ arsenal for major improvements at work, and ultimately, to our lives.

SEIU works extremely hard to support its Branch-Locals to mobilize its members for the ratification vote because turning out a strong majority is crucial in the face of contract-rejection and possible strike-action. Historically, some of the best deals that workers and their unions have won are during negotiations that edges towards strike-action but narrowly avoids so.

No. Our HRM pension plan will not be affected, nor will our benefits plan. Any member who is currently on LTD will not be affected. That being said, SEIU operates a Benefits Trust fund which provides many of their members across the country with excellent insurance coverage. It is possible that Local 14’s benefits package could be improved by joining the SEIU Benefits Trust fund.

That’s not true. Like many Unions, SEIU is a member of the Canadian Labour Congress (also known as Canada’s house of organized Labour). The CLC has some rules and procedures in place to minimize workers from hopping between various labour unions, but if members have legitimate grievances for changing unions, the CLC can help to facilitate a transfer.

That is untrue. It is our union right, as protected in the Trade Union Act, that all members must be able to vote on their collective-agreement. All SEIU members are presented the tentative agreement, and all members get to cast a vote on whether to reject or accept the bargained contract.

There is a legal window to time to change unions called “the open period” which is the time between the expiry of a collective-agreement and until one is bargained. The current Local 14 contract expired almost a year ago, so the open period for us to change unions is right now. We legally can’t wait until after negotiations. Our upcoming round of negotiations is why we need to change unions now. HPL is bringing legal counsel for the first time to these negotiations and too much is at risk without a strong Union to support us.

Yes, SEIU Local 2 is proud to be an active participant of the international labour movement, including the labour movement here in Canada. SEIU is proud members of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, and the Halifax-Dartmouth District Labour Council. SEIU regularly works with, collaborates, and are in-coalitions with other labour unions across Nova Scotia (such as when they fought against Bill 148), as well as in nationally and internationally.  


So how do
I register to vote?

You need to register to vote, no later than Thursday, March 16 2023, at noon, by emailing LabourBoard@NovaScotia.ca

In the email, you need to provide three things: 

  1. Include the file number in the email subject title: LB-2144
  2. Your full name. (If you have a common name that is different from your legal name, include that too.)
  3. Your email address to be used for voting. (We recommend that you vote using a personal email address, not your work address). 

If you are confused with this process or need technological help or access, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Email us at SEIU.Local14@gmail.com.