Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rockford Library Union Cuts Finalized

Rockford Library Union Cuts Finalized.
With a Rockford library board vote and a signature, a lengthy debate between the library union and administration comes to an end.

"We have an agreement with our bargaining unit," says Library Executive Director Frank Novak.

Library Union President Karla Janssen, "I think it was the best decision that we could make given the circumstances."

It's a one-year deal with some key changes that save the library close to 600-thousand dollars. It freezes 2010 wages, eliminates overtime for working Sundays and allows the library not to fill vacancies when employees decide to leave.

But administrators are still planning to lay off between 14 and 16 union workers.

"We're not happy that there's going to be layoffs, but given the economic times, we tried to minimize it as much as possible and I think that we've come to the best decision we could," says Janssen.

In another union concession, those layoffs will be based primarily on job performance, instead of seniority.

"That was a big, big, big change," says Janssen.

Novak adds, "We want to give our taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck and make sure we have the best team possible here at the library."

The change also helps the administration cut people from various classifications, instead of wiping out all librarian assistants as originally proposed.

The board of trustees has yet to vote on cuts to non-union employees. Right now they're considering laying off 14 non-bargaining workers, including management.

The board must also decide whether to start charging small fees for things like DVD's and when to cut out morning hours of operation. Those decisions must be made by the end of the year.

"I think it's going to be a bigger change than maybe what the public understands right now because of the hours change and there will be some big changes," says Janssen.

The library's director says he wants to use a scalpel, not a chain saw to make cuts and he's hoping to maintain as many community outreach program as possible.

The administration is also offering an early retirement package and that could change the number of layoffs. Final decisions are expected at the board's next meeting in mid-December.

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