Staffers at Berkeley Library describe atmosphere of discomfort and distrust
Over the past 18 months, the library administration, they said, has questioned the actions of some of the staff, particularly those who have been vocal about recent library policies. Seven staff members have been subjected to an amorphous investigation on “potential misconduct” that has gone on so long the ACLU has lodged a formal complaint. Some staff members were told they were “insubordinate,” may have “violated” library policies and could be fired, according to half a dozen employees who asked not to be identified because they fear for their jobs...
The result is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in many departments, particularly at the Central Branch. The employee union, SEIU Local 1021, has filed numerous grievances, many against one manager. One employee was fired and then rehired after he threatened to file a wrongful termination suit. A number of employees have left as a result of the work atmosphere, according to multiple interviews with library staff.
Yet even the Berkeley City Council has recognized the challenges faced by some library staffers. On Feb. 28, on the recommendation of City Councilman Kriss Worthington, Mayor Jesse Arreguín issued a proclamation declaring that day “Berkeley Librarian Whistleblower Day.”