AFSCME represents over 25,000 library workers nationwide – more than any other union. AFSCME is a leading advocate for equitable pay for library workers and for full funding for public libraries. From the Library of Congress and public libraries in Boston, New York, the District of Columbia, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Seattle/King County; to public, school, college, and university libraries nationwide; AFSCME librarians and library workers serve thousands of patrons every day.
Union librarians earned 38% ($284) more per week than their non-union counterparts. The union advantage also extends to library assistants, who earn 48% higher hourly wages ($18.67) than their non-union counterparts ($12.62).
“Library workers are a diverse group of people who strive to provide excellent service,” says Val Colon, president of the New York Public Library Guild, Local 1930, and vice president of DC 37. “Libraries are no longer just about books, but a whole lot more. Library services are ever-expanding to meet not only the needs of the communities they serve, but society as a whole.”
AFSCME library workers are true public servants who have been stepping up around the nation. Here are a few stories of how AFSCME library workers are serving their communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
Seattle Public Library workers, represented by AFSCME Local 2083 (Council 2) in Washington state, quickly recognized the effects social distancing would have on local small businesses and nonprofits. Those workers are offering one-on-one appointments with library staff to find resources that could help the local economy weather the crisis. Additionally, they worked with several community partners to provide Wi-Fi hot spots to communities living with no or limited internet access, allowing more communities to have access to the library’s digital resources.
In neighboring King County, workers at the King County Library System, represented by Local 1857 (Council 2), are acknowledging the mental distress many of their patrons are experiencing by offering webinars and discussion spaces for the community to cope. Their community spaces allow for open discussion between seniors, parents and teens, so everyone can experience community while social distancing.
Carver County Public Library workers in Minnesota, represented by Local 2789 (Council 65), are continuing to serve their community over Facebook Live almost every day. They host virtual story time, share genealogy tips and tricks, host author talks and assist with research over Facebook, so those at home can still fill their time with fun.