Friday, May 18, 2007

Minneapolis Library Workers Ratify Agreement

“We’re glad that all parties recognized that a stronger library system cannot be built on the backs of the workers who have already sacrificed so much to keep libraries open despite budget cuts,” said David Salmon of AFSCME Local 99 who works in the Acquisitions Department at the Central Library.

City of Minneapolis library workers ratified an agreement on May 16 to protect their wages and pensions under the proposed merger of the Hennepin County and City of Minneapolis libraries.

The merger was stalled for weeks due to a county-imposed condition that would have forced city library workers to accept lower wages and a longer work week. The agreement will make up the wage disparity with a lump sum payment from the city, which workers can choose to accept in a single payment or spread out annually. The deal would also protect pensions and seniority, prevent layoffs and guarantee union representation for workers who already have it.

“Our union negotiating team was committed to laying a strong foundation for a successful merger,” said Marilyn Bell, a library aide at the Franklin Library. “We acted in the best interests of our members and library patrons.”

“AFSCME is proud of this agreement because it assures job security for workers, access for library patrons, and financial stability for the system,” said Eliot Seide, director of AFSCME Council 5. “AFSCME members are ready to work hard with the city and county to deliver a successful merger and the finest library system in the nation.”

Legislation to enable the merger can now move forward before session ends on Monday.

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