Magazine article American Libraries

Detroit PL Staff Lacks Contract after 18 Months

Magazine article American Libraries

Detroit PL Staff Lacks Contract after 18 Months

Article excerpt

Librarians and support staff came together outside a Friends of the Detroit Public Library fundraising dinner December 11 to pass out information packets that explained the position of their separate unions on the stalemate in contract negotiations with the library administration. Librarians, branch managers, and support staff are still working under the terms of a contract that expired June 30, 1998.

A DPL staff member who wished to remain anonymous described the situation at work as a "toxic atmosphere of fear and loathing. The staff is demoralized beyond description."

In the spring of 1999, the administration's first offer of no salary increase for three years was unacceptable to the two units of the United Auto Workers who represent the DPL librarians. UAW Amalgamated Local #2200 President Janet Whitson, who is also chief of the library's Burton Historical Collection, told American Libraries that the administration's spokesperson "made it seem that we were already adequately compensated. They were listing all the benefits we had, among which was the credit union. They might as well have included the sidewalks and the trees."

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union that represents the support staff was similarly stymied during separate talks. At an unprecedented meeting of both the UAW and the AFSCME on November 26, union officials briefed more than 100 members on the status of the negotiations. The groups then "overwhelmingly voted to authorize informational picketing," according to a UAW news release. …

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