Library statement on SEIU Majority Interest Petition

On February 9, 2021, Skokie Public Library was notified that SEIU Local 73 submitted a Majority Interest Petition to the Illinois Labor Relations Board, seeking certification as the exclusive representative for certain professional and non-professional library positions. The library recognizes the statutory right of public employees to organize as a union. We are in the process of reviewing the petition and the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit, and will comply with our obligations for response. If and when SEIU is certified as the exclusive representative for a designated bargaining unit, the library looks forward to a collaborative working relationship with SEIU, as we have had with our employees over the years.

While we can appreciate the perspective shared by the Library Organizing Committee in the statement it released on February 10, we find it necessary to clarify some information about the library’s past and current wages, benefits, and working conditions.

In 2019, the board approved a compensation policy statement in which: “[t]he library seeks to provide competitive salaries and benefits across all jobs.” We are among the leaders in public library wages in our region. Notably, the board has approved wage increases which exceed three percent every year for more than 10 years.

The library also provides competitive or above-market leave policies for its staff, including:

  • A parental leave policy which grants eight (8) weeks of paid leave to full- and part-time employees
  • A vacation policy which affords all employees an opportunity for time off
  • Expanding paid sick leave to include all part-time staff not normally eligible for benefits during the calendar year 2021

During the library’s emergency closure due to COVID-19 from March 16 through June 7, 2020, all employees received full wages for normally scheduled hours, regardless of their ability to work while the building was closed. We took immediate steps to provide as many remote work opportunities to staff as possible, including making laptops and WiFi hotspots available. Further, to date, not one library employee has been laid off or furloughed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, when the library began its phased-in approach to expanding in-person services beginning June 8, 2020 and thereafter, the health and safety of our employees and community were at the forefront of our decisions. Library employees gave input and were part of the decision-making process. Our commitment to health and safety is evidenced by:

  • The formation of a safety task force in June 2020, comprised of employee representatives from various departments, pay grades, and positions. The task force was responsible for making recommendations on capacity limits, length of visits, and other guidelines when the library reopened its doors for in-person services.
  • Frequent communication with employees and opportunities for employees to provide feedback in multiple formats, including anonymously.
  • Continued opportunities for remote work even as curbside pickup was phased in.
  • The distribution of reusable/ disposable masks, face shields, gloves, and sanitation and cleaning supplies.
  • The installation of plexiglass barriers and air purifiers, and the implementation of enhanced cleaning protocols.
  • Repeated staff training on proper use of masks, personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies, hand hygiene, and social distancing.
  • The distribution of water, sunblock, and hats to employees assigned to curbside pickup in the summer, and weather appropriate outerwear for other staff working in the fall.
  • A commitment to working with the Village to make vaccines available to any library employee who wishes to be vaccinated, prioritizing the staff who are working in the building and on the bookmobile.

The library remains committed to our employees and community. We have no further comment at this time.