Union Response to the Library Staffing Strategy

March 14, 2016
Dear Library Workers,

This past Wednesday, March 9th, leaders in our union Local 2822 (PSA’s, OSIII’s, Associate Librarians) and Local 2864 (Librarians) along with AFSCME Field Representative Alison Kelly met with Library Management to discuss the second phase of the Library Staffing Strategy. We did not have advance information on the plan and simply asked questions based on the information that was provided to library staff on Tuesday. What follows is a summation of what we learned and what changes we believe need to be made to the current plan. Our demands should reflect what members want to see. This document is a beginning and will evolve as we receive more feedback.


The current proposal mandates that all current PSA's and OSIII's in Library Services complete a six month probationary period in their new roles as OSI's and Associate Librarians beginning May 30th. If, at the end of these six months, the OSI receives a satisfactory review they will have to complete an additional three months of probation, and pass a further review to become OSII's. This means almost all library workers, no matter how long they have been working in their positions, will be on probation for the remainder of 2016. During probation we have limited union rights and protections; we can be dismissed for any reason and can only appeal to step two of the grievance procedure. Our paid union-staff, AFSCME field representative, was shocked by this proposal. When Library Specialists became Associate Librarians they were not on probation. When Minneapolis Public Library started working for Hennepin County Library they were not on probation. We stand strongly against compulsory probation.


The current proposal mandates that all PSA's become OSI-II's and all OSIII's become Associate Librarians or face demotion. People should have the option to stay in the position they were originally hired to perform.

OSIII's will see a significant pay increase when they become Associate Librarians; however, we know some current OSIII's may not want to be Associate Librarians and for those who do, there are no concrete training plans to assist them in their new role. We would like the option for OSIII's to remain in their current job classification.

The new Aide position is in the low wage ($9.14-12.04) non-benefited and non-union General Worker job class. Current PSAs who do not wish to become Specialists face a significant cut in pay and benefits, and would lose their union representation. PSAs should have the option to remain in their current job classification. In addition, although no library workers are currently in the Aide position, employees hired into this position would be doing work similar to PSAs, side-by-side with circulation staff, but without the respect of a fair wage and the security of collective bargaining. The union fought for a living wage for all library workers—no exceptions.


As of last Wednesday there were no formal training plans for people in new positions. No changes in job class should happen before people receive the training they need to succeed in their new position.


We believe the OSI-II job classification does not properly represent the new Specialists position. The difference in compensation between a PSA and OS I-II does not reflect the increased responsibilities, expertise and work required of a Specialist. Losing OSIII's to information services will also increase the amount of materials handling done by current PSA's. If a PSA elects to become a Specialist and perform tasks previously completed by OSIII's and do basic reference work that PSA should become an OSIII or be compensated at OSIII levels with a job classification that is library specific. It's important to remember that once these changes are made permanent it will be difficult to argue for additional compensation for this additional work.

As you can see the only significant increase from a PSA to OSII will be seen in the three additional steps. The top pay for OSII is $1.75 more than that of PSA's. For the dramatic increase in job responsibilities this is a negligible increase in pay. If we are to do the work of OSIII's we should be OSIII's or a library specific title that provides adequate compensation.


Current Associate Librarians will see an increase in their job responsibilities—training in new Associates, working more desk shifts, assisting with programing and story-time-and receive no additional compensation. We would like to see a promotional pathway for current Associate Librarians with their MLIS degrees to move into Librarian positions.


The current proposal represents a de-valuing of professional training and the MLIS Degree. More information will need to be gathered as to how the plan will affect Librarians. Librarians will report to and be supervised by managers without experience as a Librarian. Without a clear training proposal for new Associate Librarians, this work will largely fall on current librarians. Being a librarian is more than simply answering reference questions: it is a vocational commitment to freedom of information and equal access to information.

These changes are not set in stone. Going forward we will need a lot of input and support from members to fight mandatory probation, mandatory changes in job class and fight for fair compensation for all. These changes can not be made unilaterally without re-negotiating with the union.

We will need to be united in this fight. Please respond to this email with your questions and ideas. You can also find our contact info at afscme2822.org. Be ready for a call to action!

Love and Solidarity,
President Lynn Stetler and Vice President Ali Furhman, Local 2822 and
Vice President Mary Steinbecker, Local 2864