Public safety front and center during Cleveland Public Library’s union negotiations

A strike is on the table, if negotiations fail

Cleveland Public Library employees voting on contract next week

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Safety is on the minds of many who work at the Cleveland Public Library.

The library's contract with the union expired at the end of the year.

Just months ago, a 19-year-old was shot multiple times inside the South Brooklyn library branch. He later died. Since then, long time employees have been hoping for increased security.

“Right now, we don’t have as much safety and staffing for safety as we think we need,” Debbie Hajzik said.

Hajzik, a 30-year-plus employee of the Cleveland Public Library, says she was hoping to end 2019 feeling safer at work. “The library has just canceled the contract with Royce Security, so there are no longer security guards effectively at every branch library,” said Hajzik.

Tana Peckham, the library’s chief marketing and communications officer, says that’s not entirely true. “We are adding an additional 10 security officers as well as transitioning nine part-time security officers from part-time to full-time,” said Peckham.

Peckham says that will mean a total of 45 security guards to cover all 27 branches, and their two downtown locations.

“Are there any buildings where there’s none at all right now?” 19 News asked.

“I don’t believe so, but I can double check on that for you," Peckham replied.

Peckham says they’ve taken other steps including adding door locks and improving sight lines inside and outside the buildings. Also, every employee is required to take active shooter training.

She says they’ve engaged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “to review the physical infrastructure and cybersecurity of the library system.”

Hajzik says only time will tell where money is spent. “What we see is high level administrators with $100,000-plus salaries. We see the director making $220,000 a year, plus perks, plus benefits,” said Hajzik.

If an agreement is not reached in the next few days, workers have scheduled a strike vote on Jan. 8. Also, if there ends up being a strike, all libraries will not close.

A library spokesperson tells 19 News there is a plan in place to provide service.

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