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Cleveland Public Library Board Approves Union Deal, With Pay Increases

The Cleveland Public Library's Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a new three-year contract with pay increases for their union employees, but negotiations are ongoing with the libraries’ security staff.

A tentative agreement was reached last week, in the final negotiating session with Service Employees International Union District 1199 (SEIU) after the union authorized a 10-day strike notice. The strike was set to begin Feb. 4 if an agreement was not reached. The union approved the contract Wednesday. 

"Most importantly, we have a wage system that is sustainable for us for the future, but equally importantly the union felt it's important to have predictable increments," said the library system’s Chief Talent Officer Lynn Sargi.

The step increases are not by percentage, instead following a specific schedule, with increases set at about 40 cents per year. An entry-level employee would make $15.76 an hour at the lowest pay grade and would make $22.61 after 20 years of service in the same job. A new employee coming in at the highest pay grade would make $29.23 per hour and eventually top out at $41.95. 

The new contract does not address security concerns and the next negotiating session with security staff is set for Feb. 6. Safety concerns escalated after a 19-year-old was found with several gunshot wounds in the bathroom of the South Brooklyn branch. He later died of his injuries.

"There's really not any additional language that specifically addresses security because that's not a common area that's negotiated, especially since our safety and security officers are represented by [Laborers] Local 860," Sargi said.

Both the library employees and security staff had been working without a contract since Jan. 1. 

The library board also approved bonuses between $100 and $1,000 for all employees and a 2 percent increase for non-union employees.

"We are looking ahead and making sure that we have, with our last tax levy, we have ambitious plans to touch every branch over the next 10 years," said library marketing and communications chief Tana Peckham. “So we want to look forward and work together and work as one organization to really take those ambitious plans on and really make them happen.”

The library announced a $39.3 million, 10-year projectto renovate or rebuild all of its branches. The money comes from a tax levy increase that Cleveland voters approved in 2017 by a 69 percent margin.

The librarian’s local union representatives have not replied to ideastream’s request for comment.

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