When life presents challenges, some people just rise to the top. Lori Wightman is one of those people.

As a self-described introvert, Lori quietly saw to the needs of her fellow CUPE 2974 library workers over the past ten years. She never expected to find herself leading a strike.

“Even when the employer came to the table with major concessions, I still thought we would be able to work it out,” she says, looking back on the beginning of what has turned out to be a life-altering event.

“We had never had a strike in our local. Making the decision to go out was a huge responsibility. Balancing all the variables and trying to figure out what’s best for the most members was a scary responsibility,” she says.

Lori and her team had kept their members well-informed through the whole bargaining process so, when the time came, she knew they were all on board.

“What I never expected was how close we would all become. Before the strike, we all worked at different branches and maybe saw each other once a year at training. Now we are a family,” she says, with strong emotion in her voice. “All our members stepped up in ways I didn’t know we would have to. We’re a shy bunch by nature and everyone has pushed beyond their comfort zone. They are the strongest people I will ever meet.”

“The hardest thing about this strike has been discovering that people elected to power can just turn their backs on you as if you weren’t there,” says Lori.

Despite a huge outcry of community support for the workers, the county council has refused to give the library board the direction necessary to work out a deal. After more than four months without their libraries many voters plan to make their disappointment known on election day.

Despite their underlying anger and frustration, Lori says her members continue to maintain their sense of humour and the lines continue to be filled with laughter. “I’m in awe of them – everyday,” she says.

When asked what she has learned about herself through this struggle, she said, “I am so much stronger than I knew I was. And, I will give everything for the people I care about. I didn’t really know that before.”