Homewood library employees still waiting for contract

The Homewood Public Library board failed on Wednesday to ratify a contract with its employees represented by AFSCME, saying the board never received a signed contract. 
Employees organized with the union of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees more than two years ago after their work hours were cut, impacting pay and vacation benefits.
At the library board’s May meeting, AFSCME members were anticipating the agreement would be ratified. The board went into an hour-long closed session meeting, and returned to the regular meeting saying, “due to questions and concerns raised by ASCME representation” and lack of a ratified contract, the board would not be voting.
Library board president Adrienne River said Wednesday the board was told the contract was ratified, but the document hasn’t been given to the board’s attorney or the board. 
River said in addition, “There were some discussions on interpretation, so the attorneys are working that out.” 

Anne Irving, regional director for ASCME Council 31,  said from the discussion at the board meeting she believes the board is trying to make changes. The staff ratified the contract based upon a tentative agreement and now “it’s our understanding the board is trying to make changes to that contract.” 
ASCME bargaining member Lisa Stilts read a statement at the meeting saying employees are “deeply disappointed and angry” by the process and how the board is “interpreting (the contract) in a way that was not discussed at the table.”
“We’re angry at how this process is unfolding. Our membership worked hard to ensure we had a fair contract. We accepted compromises in order to achieve concrete gains for all employees,” she told the board.
Library employees say the two-year contract, which extends through July 2020, promises two percent salary raises each year and a restoration for employees of their previous work schedule. 
After the meeting, River said she couldn’t say when both sides will have the interpretations settled and the contract will be ready for board ratification.
In other business, the library board approved a $2,326,303 budget for 2020. It shows a deficit of $16,200. The budget is based on the amount of revenue the library is able to collect, said interim library director Kathy Parker. The budget is a drop of approximately $95,000 from the 2019 budget of $2,421,305.

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