FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2023
Workers at Worthington Libraries Ratify First Union Contract
Worthington, OH — Librarians and other workers at Worthington Libraries voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first union contract. The union members held their vote on Monday and Tuesday, March 20 and 21. The Worthington Libraries Board of Trustees also voted to ratify the agreement during their Board meeting on Tuesday evening. The contract makes huge gains on the issues that motivated library staff to form their union, including paid leave, job security, and competitive wages.
"We organized our union because we love our jobs, our libraries, and our patrons, and we wanted to make improvements that would allow more of us to stay at Worthington Libraries long-term," said Tara Shiman, a Youth Services Librarian at Old Worthington Library. "By working together with our administration, we were able to enact paid parental and bereavement leave, a more flexible vacation scheduling process, competitive wages, and a fair system for handling discipline, transfers, layoffs, and furloughs."
“I am glad we have a contract in place, and I look forward to working with all staff to improve the library experience for both employees and patrons,” said Lauren Robinson, Director and Chief Executive Officer of Worthington Libraries.
The improvements in leave policies include paid parental and bereavement leave, the ability to use vacation days on weekends, and an end to disciplinary action for unscheduled absences (which include unscheduled sick days). These new policies were added in the union contract without any corresponding concessions from employees.
“We’ve had high turnover in the past because some workplace policies were very difficult for working parents. We had no parental leave, and if a parent had to take off an unplanned day to care for a sick child, they would receive a disciplinary ‘occurence’ for that sick day,” said Kristina Kesselring , a Circulation Assistant at Northwest Library. “We’re glad that our administration listened to these concerns and made the improvements we called for.”
The union contract enacts fair procedures for handling furloughs, layoffs, and transfers. The previous lack of fair guidelines created problems for many library employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees also won “just cause” protections, which ensure that employees are only terminated for just cause that is consistent with the contract and workplace policies. All provisions of the contract are enforceable through a binding grievance and independent arbitration process.
“We’re excited to move forward under our new union contract. We expect it to be a win-win-win for library staff, library management, and library patrons,” said Libby Vasey, an Adult Services Librarian at Worthington Park Library. “We’ll benefit with stronger working conditions and job security, management will benefit with clear workplace policies that we have all agreed on, and our patrons will benefit with more consistency of service as we reduce turnover and retain highly skilled and knowledgeable staff.”
Other improvements include across the board raises averaging more than 15% over the life of the contract, a ratification bonus, and a partial tuition reimbursement benefit.
Worthington librarians and library workers began organizing their union with the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) in 2020, and they won their union vote in October 2021. Librarians and library workers at Grandview Heights Public Library organized a union with OFT in 2022 and are currently in the middle of contract negotiations.
“Libraries are cornerstones of our communities.” said Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “Librarians and library workers help foster a lifelong love of reading, they create safe spaces for our kids and teens, and they help our neighbors access important social services — and those workers deserve a voice at work, job security, and workplace policies rooted in respect and fairness.”