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Queens Chronicle

Library layoffs predicted by union

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Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2010 12:00 am

Union leaders predict 44 Queens Library workers will lose their jobs on Friday, after contract negotiations with the library revealed a $2.4 million budget gap that could “only be solved by the layoffs … or deep concessions made by union members,” according to Local 1321.

Library spokeswoman Joanne King, said the system has been working on every front to avert 412 layoffs that were initially on the table this year. “As recently as late Monday, we asked the union to consider a new proposal that would have saved every single job in jeopardy,” King said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, our proposal was rejected immediately and was not brought to the staff for a vote,” she added.

King said the proposal was to temporarily change vacation provisions so that accrued time had to be used in the year it was earned, rather than carried over into the next year. She said the union also demanded a blanket guarantee that no layoffs would occur in the coming year — a promise that the library system was not willing to make, given uncertain economic times.

In late August union leaders said they asked the library to fund an early retirement incentive to cut costs by reducing its workforce through voluntary separation. According to the union, Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library offered such an incentive to their employees while Queens refused.

The union blames the library for continuing to keep 19 branches open six days a week, when the City Council and mayor only restored funding for five-day service.This will force staff to do more work with less, according to union leaders.

Members of Local 1321 also lamented transfers instituted by the administration, uprooting staff, many of whom developed ties to the community after working in local libraries for years.

“The administration of the Queens Library has been unresponsive to both the needs of the workers and the community they serve. Morale is abysmal and Queens’ residents will suffer.This is such a sad situation,” said union President John Hyslop.

“Every Queens Library staff member is a valuable resource for the community. It is an ongoing goal to have enough staff to deliver library service in every community every day of the week,” King said.

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