Library Union Continues Picketing
Staff Report, 08-27-2019

Anthony Bear pickets with the Professionals Guild of Ohio Council 3—the Cuyahoga Falls Library employee union—outside the library on July 16th.
Stephen Mulé
The Cuyahoga Falls Library employee union—the Professionals Guild of Ohio Council 3—continued picketing on August 20th over failed contract negotiations that have left union employees without a contract in place. Negotiations have been ongoing since October of last year.

Earlier on the 20th—ahead of a Library Board meeting that night—Marketing & PR Manager Alexandria Yurosko released a negotiation update on behalf of the library administration, reporting that employees were offered a 2.5% wage increase during a mediation in June, which the union rejected without a counteroffer, nor any attempt to return to negotiations. The library argues that a 2.5% wage increase is fair, particularly in light of “data confirming that CFL shelvers out earn area part-time shelvers” in addition to “a robust benefit package that includes 10 paid holidays, 10 paid vacation days, 3 paid personal days (annual value of approximately $850 based upon CFL’s wage offer), as well as a $350.00 medical reimbursement stipend.” The administration also points to “opportunities for staff training and development” as evidence that employees are treated fairly.

The employee union spokesperson, Amy Walker, on the other hand, points out that there are more part-time positions than shelvers alone, and that while shelvers can be paid up to $12.29 per hour, all shelvers on the payroll are paid $9.03 per hour, just five cents above the lowest pay in the available range for that position—and this despite the fact that some shelvers have been in their position for up to seven years, while others have worked in this role for less than one year.

“It is misleading to use the ‘highest wage range’ as an argument when there is no longer any way to achieve the higher wages of each range,” Walker said. “A person who has remained loyal to the library for multiple years earns the same as an employee who is hired today. The contract used to allow for employees to move up the positional ladder, but those rungs have systematically been eliminated.”

Walker also said that the union learned of the 2.5% wage increase offer from a newspaper article and not during a negotiation meeting, and she argued that the union’s demand of a wage increase of either 3% or $.40 per hour—whichever is greater—was submitted before the administration’s flat 2.5% offer. What’s more, the union believes that the library administration is resisting negotiating the contract in order to avoid paying the back pay of the wage increase dating to the previous contract’s expiration at the end of 2018.

As for the union’s demands, Walker says the offer of a 2.5% wage increase is a “status quo raise” that managers hired within the last two years are receiving to continue doing the job they were hired to do, while union job responsibilities have changed. “In the last two-three years,” Walker said, “Union members have been required to take on additional work to cover for vacated positions which were never rehired, and other added job duties.”

The union believes that the administration’s offer of 2.5% was an attempt to end the informational picketing the union has been engaging in after the union’s last offer was rejected. “To come forward now and suggest we are unwilling to cooperate is disingenuous,” Walker said. “Negotiations have been exhausted and we believe it possible the Director wishes to never come to an arrangement. We believe it is the Library’s objective to break the union entirely.”

The Falls Free Press will continue to cover this story. Check for our previous coverage.

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