Union Library Workers Call on Executives to Meet 'As Soon as Possible, as Long as Necessary' to Prevent Strike


SEIU and community members rally for library workers on Public Square, (12/13/19). - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • SEIU and community members rally for library workers on Public Square, (12/13/19).

More than 400 union library workers voted yesterday to authorize their bargaining team to strike. If Cleveland Public Library leadership fails to demonstrate meaningful commitments to staffing and safety in ongoing negotiations, the workers may issue a 10-day notice of an intent to strike at any time.

According to the library workers' union, SEIU 1199, the bargaining committee will hold off on that decision until the next bargaining session on Jan. 17 wraps up.

"Union Library workers are asking CPL executives to meet as soon as possible, and for as long as necessary, to reach an agreement that addresses the staffing and security concerns of the patrons and staff," a statement from SEIU read. "While library staff members do not want to strike, the unwillingness of Library leaders to keep the public and employees safe may give them no other option."

The library workers' contract expired on Dec. 31st, and bargaining team members note that they had been requesting dates to meet with leadership to negotiate a new contract since March of last year. Library leadership "was resistant" to scheduling bargaining dates, they said.

The library issued a statement Wednesday evening saying that if workers did indeed strike, the system would have to temporarily close branches and suspend some services.

"The Library will ensure there are branches open in strategic areas of the city with library-rich programs and services," the statement read. "Despite this action by SEIU, the Library remains committed to negotiating in good faith at the bargaining table for a strong and sustainable future. We urge SEIU to join us at the bargaining table to work together to avoid disruption of library-rich programs and services for our community."

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