Cleveland Public Library employees plan to strike, officials say move will disrupt children’s programs

Published: Jan. 21, 2020 at 10:28 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Some Cleveland Public Library workers say they’re fed up, so they gave notice that they plan to strike on Feb. 4.

Library administrators say if workers walk the picket lines, the community will suffer.

Union librarians, clerks, custodians and other Cleveland Public Library workers say they're going on strike in the next 10 days.

"People love the library and feel like it’s a safe place and we want them to continue to do that,” said Tana Peckham, Chief Marketing Communications Officer for the Cleveland Public Library.

Union leaders tell us the strike comes after months of negotiations they say did not provide a fair contract. Union member Lisa Malone says the Cleveland library’s proposals have included plans to outsource jobs, when the staff at the library is already stretched thin. She says more than 100 positions have been eliminated in the last year.

“At the end of the day we have less people doing more work every single day,” said Lisa Malone. executive board member of SEIU 1199. “One positions you’re having to work two and three positions just to make everything work. We are the third largest library in the country. We get a lot of material. We get a lot of requests. We have a lot of reference work. We don’t have enough people to do it.”

Cleveland Public library workers plan to go on strike. Coming up tonight on Cleveland 19 News at 10 & 11, I’ll tell you what this means for you and the kids who depend on some of the library's programs.

Posted by Kelly Kennedy on Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The library says if this strike happens they may have to temporarily shut down some of their branches, which could mean canceling some of their services that a lot of local kids depend on.

“We have a lot of kids who come to us after school," explained Peckham. “It’s a safe place for them. We provide the kids cafe in partnership with the Cleveland Food Bank with important meals for them. We also provide homework help, computers so that they could do their homework.”

Peckham says if workers do strike, they would have to suspend some programs, but she could not say specifically which ones. She says they are working on a plan to disrupt as few as possible.

“Of course no one wants that to happen,” Malone said. “It’s sad because some of those kids sometimes that’s the only meal that they’ll have during the day and nobody wants to go on a strike and stop services. I don’t know what the libraries plans are for that hopefully they will have people in place to continue that if we do go out, but hopefully they’ll come back to us with something we can work with.”

If the strike does happen, it’ll be at noon on Feb. 4. Library administrators are hopeful that some kind of compromise can be reached before then. The union says they will negotiate if the library brings them something they can work with.

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