Tempers flared at Wednesday night’s Monroe County Public Library board meeting as library trustees and community members sounded off about the possibility of unionizing the library.
Trustee Randy Paul called the rest of the board “biased” against the union issue in light of a recent proposal to require a 75 percent voter turnout in order to form a union. In almost all other cases, and in the original “proposal for a proposal” the union organizing committee presented to the board, the requirement is a simple majority, librarian and union organizing committee member Dory Lynch said.
But board President Stephen Moberly said the proposal was a suggestion, not “written in stone,” and it was based on a similar union movement at Marion County Public Library
However, Paul said the board’s bias has been clear from the beginning, from “secret meetings” originally held about the issue to a recent attempt to “block” the subject from a vote.
“No way someone could objectively look at this and say we’re not biased,” Paul said.
Moberly also said he believed most of the board had not yet made up their minds about the union, and called Paul’s comments “unfortunate” and made it difficult for the board to deal with a “very difficult issue.” He requested “everyone lower the rhetoric and their posturing,” and said the board will give the issue the “same thoughtful consideration” they did for the budget issues.
Interim director Sara Laughlin, the replacement for controversial director Cindy Gray, who resigned last month, did not take sides. Instead, she said she’d be “happy to work” with the library and the board, regardless of what decision is made.
The new resolution is a “mirror” of the Marion County Public Library’s union proposal, which ultimately took two years to pass, said David Warrick, executive director of the AFSCME council that represents works in Indiana and Kentucky. He said in his 17 years experience, it was the only time he had to deal with a 75 percent required voter turnout.
“It is biased because even if 74 percent of the workers came and they all vote ‘yes’ for the union, the union still fails because they did not have 75 percent of the vote,” Warrick said.
Warrick also said the 75 percent requirement was damaging for the Marion county library because the board was “not cooperative,” and more “butting of heads” after the union resolution was overwhelmingly passed.
Still, Paul is hopeful that ultimately the 75 percent requirement will not stand, largely because of the input of several audience members, all of whom requested the requirement be returned to a simple majority.
“I urge you to put integrity back into the resolution and make it 50 percent,” said Valerie Merriam, a local resident and member of the Monroe County School Board.
Council backs library staffs’ push to unionize
April 27, 2007 - Informational Meeting
The union organizing committee held an informational meeting and invited all eligible staff. Organizers and other staff met at the Unitarian Church in Bloomington. Union representatives from Gary Public Library, Hammond Public Library and Louisville Public Library all attended and discussed their experiences. Ed Johnston, an AFSCME representative for the northern part of Indiana, was also on hand to answer questions. Michelle Martin, the AFSCME representative helping with our organization movement, coordinated the event. Staff received answers to a wide variety of questions they had about unions and our specific situation. The staff there made the decision to move forward with the campaign and signed cards for union representation.