David King has worked at the main branch of the Carnegie Library system as a part-time librarian for 15 years. While he works with patrons daily, he says leadership typically solicits input from consultants instead of rank-and-file employees.
“We care about the library. We want it to be the best place it can for ourselves and for our patrons,” he said. “We feel like only when we have a real voice on the job is that going to happen.”
King is a member of the United Library Workers, a committee launching a unionization effort Monday evening at the United Steelworkers headquarters downtown. He said a union would give workers a seat at the table.
Library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes said in an e-mailed statement that while the library has not had any communication with the United Steelworkers, it is aware of organizing activity.
“Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh greatly values our employees and we respect their legal rights,” Thinnes said.
Organizers say they want a more inclusive and equitable work environment and they are seeking to have greater voice when it comes to decisions about pay, benefits, hiring and promotions.
“The library works because we do,” said librarian Emily Miller in an e-mailed press release. “In order to do our best work for the community, we need a union to secure the support and respect we deserve.”
The committee has one year to gather union cards from 30 percent of the 350 eligible staff from 19 public branches and the library support center. Library drivers and environmental service workers are represented by the Teamsters and SEIU, respectively.