Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh members launch unionization effort | TribLIVE.com
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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh members launch unionization effort

Jamie Martines
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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland

Employees from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh are meeting Monday to kick off unionization efforts.

“I think it’s important because, as we exist now, we don’t have a contract,” said Rachel Masilamani, a part-time librarian at the Downtown branch. “So sometimes it could be difficult to bring up things that you think could be done better.”

She said some employees fear retaliation for speaking up.

“I think it’s important for us all to be together, and know that we are safe, and that our jobs are safe when we make our voices heard,” Masilamani said.

Library employees joined together as the United Library Workers committee in 2018 to begin exploring unionization, raising concerns about pay, benefits, hiring and promotion practices as well as creating a more inclusive work environment.

The organizing effort, assisted by the United Steelworkers, includes about 350 unrepresented staff members across 19 public library branches and the support center.

“I found that I was having difficulties on the job,” said Masilamani, adding that although she works with library patrons everyday, she feels that her input — and that of other library staff who want to share their ideas with management — isn’t heard.

“Because I’m an expert on what I do, I want to have my voice heard more,” she said.

The Teamsters and Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, already represent library drivers and environmental service workers.

Members of the United Library Workers committee will meet 7 p.m. Monday at the United Steelworkers headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh to kick off efforts to collect union authorization cards.

Those cards will then be submitted to the National Labor Relation Board to formalize the union.

“We have not had any communication with the United Steelworkers, but we are aware of organizing activity taking place,” Suzanne Thinnes, communications manager for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, said in a statement. “Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh greatly values our employees and we respect their legal rights. We believe in cultivating a workplace culture of mutual respect and inclusion. This is a big decision for the future of the Library and it is important for all staff to be engaged, invested and heard in this process.”

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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