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Niles-Maine Library Employees In Illinois ‘Go Union’ With AFSCME

Published Wednesday, June 16, 2021
by AFSCME Council 31 News
Niles-Maine Library Employees In Illinois ‘Go Union’ With AFSCME

(NILES, ILLINOIS) - Employees of the Niles-Maine District Library are going Union with American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31. 

Nearly 100 Librarians, Patron Support Staff and other Library Workers will be part of the new Union.  The Workers recently filed a majority-interest petition with the local panel of the Illinois Labor Relations Board.  AFSCME is the largest Union of Public Service Workers in Illinois and represents thousands of Library Employees throughout the state.

Niles Library Workers are coming together in the wake of cuts to library funding, Staff and programs threatened by newly elected members of the Library Board, who are engulfed in controversy over giving a $100-an-hour no-bid contract to their political supporter, Steven Yasell.

“The Staff at the Niles-Maine District Library has spent decades working with different Board Leadership to maintain a valuable community space and resource, but within just a few weeks, this new Board majority has made it obvious that they do not understand the functions of a public library and have no interest in learning them,” Teen Services Librarian Rachel Colias said.

“Once we realized we weren’t being offered a seat at the table, we pulled up our own with AFSCME.  The people who work here have invested too much in this library to be so easily dismissed, and we hope to work as a Union to protect our ability to serve anyone who relies on us,” she added.

A broad group of community leaders led by U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky signed an open letter to the Board, supporting the Employees and opposing cuts to library services and Staff: “We are proud that the Niles-Maine District Library provides valuable services to our community and we are dedicated to ensuring that those vital services continues.  Unfortunately, the newly elected Library Board’s recent actions appear to place those services in jeopardy, citing proposed cuts to library hours, programs and outreach services, sharply increasing Employees' portion of health insurance premiums and hiring a videographer with political ties to board members and no experience auditing libraries as a consultant at the rate of ($100/hour) with no cap.”

Backing the Employees’ choice to form a Union, Congressman Schakowsky said: “All Workers deserve a voice in the workplace, including the ability to organize.  I urge you to respect the fundamental rights of these Workers and not to interfere with or delay that process.”

“My Co-Workers and I have invaluable insight into what we need to do our work effectively. Our organizational knowledge is deep.  We know this place and we’ve made our careers here,” Youth Services Librarian Cate Levinson said. “This community loves the library and they know the people who work here love it too.  I believe the library and the community it serves will benefit from the work we will do together as Members of AFSCME.”

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