Salt Lake City library workers launch union organizing efforts

Workers want higher wages, more transparency and more say in decision-making.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) A group gathers near the Salt Lake City Public Library on Thursday, April 14, 2022. Library workers plan to form Utah’s first library union.

Salt Lake City public library employees are aiming to form Utah’s first library union and announced Monday they are organizing to earn better pay and address a list of other workplace issues.

The workers organize with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees under the name Salt Lake City Public Library Workers United.

In addition to striving for better pay, the union organizers also want to take action against a lack of transparency, expensive health insurance and exclusion from the decision-making process.

“As employees, we receive low wages in a time of rising rents and inflation,” Jacob Rosenzweig, librarian at the Marmalade Branch, said in a press release. “We – who serve the public, who help keep our stores clean and safe, who directly implement every policy and feel the impact of it – deserve to have a real say in the decision-making processes that affect us and the public, and we deserve to be adequately compensated for this. A union can help us with that.”

Union organizers say they also want to address security concerns in the library system. Over the past year, a series of threats against the libraries have led to investigations by local and federal police. None of the threats were deemed credible.

In a statement Monday, library spokesman Quinn McQueen said officials wanted to know more about what workers wanted from a union.

“The library is interested in learning more about the details of the AFSCME proposal and what the staff hopes to achieve in this effort,” McQueen said. “Caring for one another is SLCPL’s top priority, and library leadership sees this as an opportunity to learn about additional ways we can make our organization an even better place to work.”

If the workers are recognized by the city, the union would represent approximately 345 workers. The union needs the city library council to submit a collective bargaining agreement to the city council for approval.

Justin Scaccy

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