Homewood library union representatives respond to budget story

To the editors:
 
The employees at the Homewood Public Library were interested to see our director’s interview with your journalists, published in The Chronicle’s Aug. 1, 2018, edition. As serving our patrons is our highest priority, we are truly excited and grateful to see that the board has set aside additional monies for staff development. This will enable some of our co-workers to take advantage of educational opportunities that will help us to better serve our district.
 
As you may know, your library staff organized with AFSCME more than two years ago. We have been at the bargaining table since April 2017. We have reached agreement on many important issues; however, we have yet to see even incremental progress on financial matters, As of now, over a year after we started bargaining, the library administration is still refusing to grant a cost of living adjustment for all staff. We hope to address these issues in more detail at our next bargaining session. 
 
A library is much more than books, materials, programs, story hours, databases, and digital products. At the heart of a library is the staff and the relationships that we build with our patrons.
 
Unfortunately, staff have received no cost of living adjustment in pay since July 2014, while the current administrator has received sizable raises. Meanwhile, in July 2015, staff hours and benefits were slashed. Due to these cuts, the library now has only three full time staff members, all of whom are in administration.
 
As a result of this, staff morale is low, and many staff have left. Indeed, the Homewood Public Library has seen 80 percent turnover in the past five years. A staff member of 20 years recently had her position eliminated, meaning that staff and patrons have lost a dedicated, highly skilled member of our library team.
 
As your library staff, we look forward to working with our new board as well as our East Hazel Crest Library Board to make the Homewood Public Library a safe, welcoming, and supportive environment for all, including staff members. A great first step toward that goal would be to finalize a contract that will enable better relations, improved morale, and greater clarity on job duties and other issues.
 
Best,
Lisa Stilts
Sandy Sullivan
Caitlin Archer-Helke
Sue Ryan

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