Friday, January 29, 2010

Lorain Public Library & SEIU Agree to Cuts to Save Jobs

L to R: Linda Meredith (SEIU representative to Levy Committee), Joanne Eldridge (Director, LPLS), Toni Whitney (Asst. Director, LPLS), and Kevin Corcoran (Levy Chair).

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — In a unanimous vote Thursday evening, the Lorain Public Library System board approved an agreement with the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 that will cut 20 employees.

The 20 jobs cut will come from an early retirement incentive, voluntary and involuntary layoffs. This is a decrease from the 32 jobs cut proposed earlier by the system and rejected by the union.

To help reduce the number of jobs lost, the union agreed to a wage freeze through March 31, 2011, and the discontinuation of health care bonuses for part-time employees.

One of the key parts of the agreement, said SEIU Local 1199 president Linda Meredith, was that for each early retirement or voluntary layoff, it meant one less person would be laid off. The early retirement incentive includes those taking it getting 100 percent payment for unused sick time, up to 800 hours. Still, she said, “There are no winners here.”

Meredith borrowed from Wednesday night’s State of the Union address, saying the library system faced a “deficit of trust” on the part of the communities they serve.

“One-third of the people who help them will be gone,” she said. “The public is the biggest loser here.”

As soon as the board came out of executive session at the North Ridgeville branch library, voted on the agreement and adjourned, Meredith, a children’s librarian at the Lorain branch, submitted a letter declaring her intention to take the early retirement incentive. She said she was doing it in the hopes of saving someone else’s full-time position.

“It’s hard,” Meredith said with tears in her eyes while the board was in executive session. “I’ve got 22 years here. It’s a bittersweet parting.”

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