October 24, 2014

Update: Gary Library Board, Union Agree on Cutbacks

This story has been updated to include information on the library board’s vote.

On March 12, the Gary Public Library‘s Library Board approved the plan hashed out last week between a committee and the library’s union for staff cuts, according to the Post-Tribune.

The plan, if approved by the library board and the union’s membership, would cut full-time staff from 51 to 37 employees, eliminate all 14 part-time positions, and cut pay 10 percent for all remaining employees. As a result, the personnel budget will drop from $2 million to $1.4 million. An additional $80,000 must still be cut from the benefits package.

The move comes after officials of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 2760 characterized a previous cost-cutting plan as union busting and threatened to file a grievance. The plan, drafted by newly appointed director Otis D. Alexander, would have eliminated nine of 32 full-time positions, kept five full-time posts and converted 18 full-time posts to part-time, saving $1.4 million, according to the Post-Tribune.

As a result, it would have reduced union officials to part-time employees who would have been ineligible for a union card. “You can’t have much of a union with only five people left,” Gracie Allen, president of Local 2760, told NWI.com. After the union’s critique, the board suspended the March 1 deadline for implementation of the plan, which was approved on January 30, and formed a committee to meet with the union.

Such drastic cuts are necessary because tax revenue to support the library system has been halved in the past three years, primarily because of a tax cap, as LJ reported. The main library already closed on January 2 as a cost-cutting measure, eliminating about 30 jobs and leaving the system with four remaining branches. (A previous branch closed in November 2010.)

Alexander could not be immediately reached for comment.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.

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