Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh members launch unionization effort |

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh members launch unionization effort

Jamie Martines
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 .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.