St. Charles library director defends policies in the face of unionizing effort

  • St. Charles Public Library Director Edith Craig is defending the library's policies and working conditions in the face of an effort by employees to form a union.

    St. Charles Public Library Director Edith Craig is defending the library's policies and working conditions in the face of an effort by employees to form a union. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
By Eric Schelkopf
Shaw Media
Updated 8/16/2021 3:34 PM

The St. Charles Public Library director is defending the library's policies and working conditions in the face of an effort by the majority of employees at the library to form a union.

Approximately 80 library employees recently filed to form a union through AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Council 31. The library's administration and managers would not be part of the union. The St. Charles Public Library has about 95 employees in total.

 

"In view of reports and statements made to the media, we find it necessary to clarify some information about the library's past and current wages, benefits and working conditions," St. Charles Public Library Director Edith Craig said in a statement on the library's website.

Regarding wages, Craig said that since 2008, staff members have received annual cost-of-living and merit increases averaging 3.5%.

"In 2017, the library voluntarily studied employee wages as compared to the market and made adjustments where appropriate," she said. "The library is committed to evaluating library wage to market considerations every two to three years."

Craig also said the library provides competitive or above-market policies for its staff, which are evaluated on an annual basis. That includes adopting an extended sick leave policy to include part-time staff who do not qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act and providing professional development for all staff levels.

In addition, she said the library regularly evaluates working conditions to promote a safe and healthy working environment. That includes offering a $100 incentive for staff who received the COVID-19 vaccine and adjusting work schedules to allow staff to get vaccinated when appointment times were available.

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"The library remains committed to our employees and the community," Craig said in the statement.

In response, library employees in a statement said that "a strong majority of employees have expressed their support for AFSCME representation."

"We look forward to having a real voice in the important decisions that affect us at work and advocating for ourselves, our co-workers and our community," the statement said.

Craig had previously said the library recognizes the statutory right of public employees to organize as a union.

"The library is in the process of reviewing the petition, the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit, and will comply with its obligations for response," Craig said. "If/when AFSCME is certified as the exclusive representative for a designated bargaining unit, the library looks forward to a collaborative working relationship with AFSCME, as it has had with its employees over the years."

Young adult librarian Brandon Buckley has said library employees want a voice more than anything.

"There's specific things that we're going to bring up when we actually are certified and then we get to the bargaining table," he said. "But just in general, we do want a say in things."

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