New library pact includes wage freeze, cuts in vacation time

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

The board of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County has ratified an agreement with its librarians that includes a pay freeze and reductions in vacation and sick time.

The pact is with the Public Librarian Association of Youngstown, which is affiliated with Service Employees International Union District 1199.

The agreement will be retroactive to May 31, when the old contract expired. The duration of the contract is two years and four months. Union members unanimously ratified the agreement June 3.

Janet Loew, media relations specialist for the library, said the union employs 55 librarians.

In a press release, the board said the agreement contains cost-saving measures: capping the library’s portion of health insurance and a reduction in sick and vacation time.

Loew said library system will pay 6 percent of any health-insurance premium increase.

“We wanted to help maintain a reasonable cost-sharing plan,” she said.

The contract provides for improved efficiencies; greater ability to manage current and future costs; tools and flexibility to secure the work force needed to operate a technologically advanced library committed to outstanding customer service.

“Our employees continue to demonstrate a spirit of cooperation and an understanding of prudent use of public funds. As state funding dipped in 2009, they voluntarily agreed to roll back their wages to 2008,” said library director Carlton A. Sears.

“Additionally, as funds continued to decline the following year, the employees again agreed to freeze their wages and steps at that 2008 level for another year. This year, we were able to reinstate wages to the 2009 level.”

Loew said under the agreement, the average hourly wage is $21.89 for librarians.

Key items in the agreement are reinstating wages to a 2009 level the first year and freezing them for the following 16 months of the contract, with no step increases; reducing the number of sick days allotted to employees each year; reducing the vacation schedule; and capping the library’s portion of health-insurance premiums.

At the board’s meeting Thursday, Sears also reported that the Internal Revenue Service has reported that the free tax preparation program in Mahoning County, in which the library participates, brought into the Mahoning Valley $3.36 million in refunds and fee savings to participants.

This is a 4 percent increase over the previous year. The library is a partner in the Mahoning Valley Economic Opportunity Coalition in providing tax help for seniors and people with low to moderate income.

Sears added the library was one of the first in Ohio to offer a mobile app, PLYMC mobile, for Web-enabled smartphones. The app launched May 22. On the first day, the website for the app had about 1,900 visits. Information can be found at www.libraryvisit.org/PLYMCmobile