St. Charles library employees file to form union
The majority of employees at the St. Charles Public Library -- approximately 80 -- recently filed to form a union through AFSCME (American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees) Council 31 in order to gain a voice in library matters.
The library's administration and managers would not be part of the union. The St. Charles Public Library has about 95 employees in total.
"In general, it's been a very tumultuous year and a half, both with the pandemic and with the move," young adult librarian Brandon Buckley said. "It just kind of showed some inequities that maybe should be addressed."
The library recently reopened after an expansion and renovation project. While the work was going on, the library had been housed in the former Haines Middle School.
"There was definitely a lot of stress on staff throughout that process," adult services librarian Sutton Skowron said. "We're the ones behind the service desks and interacting with patrons on a daily basis. We are the ones who know how to serve our community best. What's good for the workers is good for the community. Because when the staff is supported properly and when we have what we need to do our jobs properly, the community as a whole benefits."
Buckley said library employees want a voice more than anything.
"There's specific things that we're going to bring up when we actually are certified and then we get to the bargaining table," he said. "But just in general, we do want a say in things."
In an email, St. Charles Public Library Director Edith Craig said the library recognizes the statutory right of public employees to organize as a union.
"The library is in the process of reviewing the petition, the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit, and will comply with its obligations for response," Craig said. "If/when AFSCME is certified as the exclusive representative for a designated bargaining unit, the library looks forward to a collaborative working relationship with AFSCME, as it has had with its employees over the years."
Skowron said she is also looking forward to working collaboratively with library officials.
"We're 100% ready and willing to sit down with the administration to discuss improvements that will benefit everyone," she said. "I'm absolutely going to work with Edith and the administration to make this library the best it possibly can be, because I really believe in the St. Charles library."