FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2023
Contact: Neil Bhaerman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pickerington Public Library Workers Call for Union Recognition
PICKERINGTON, OH — Today, staff at Pickerington Public Library (PPL) called on their Director and Board of Trustees to voluntarily recognize their union. Copies of signed union cards from an overwhelming majority of library employees were delivered to management, while the originals were filed with the State Employee Relations Board (SERB) to request voluntary recognition of the union.
“We’re forming our union, Pickerington Public Library United Staff (PPLUS), because we want to make sure that we continue to have a strong and supportive work environment that will make PPL a place that everyone wants to work for,” said Grace Walker, a Youth Services Librarian at PPL. “We’re asking our library’s administration to respect the decision we collectively made and recognize our union.”
The employees are organizing to join the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), who represent nearly 20,000 active and retired public school teachers, charter school teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, library workers and social work professionals in Ohio. In 2021 and 2022, library workers at Worthington Libraries and Grandview Heights Public Library formed unions in affiliation with OFT.
In Grandview Heights management voluntarily recognized the union without a union election, and in Worthington management took a stance of neutrality and did not attempt to influence how staff voted in their union election. “We formed our union at Grandview Heights Public Library (GHPL) because we believe that our voices can help a great library system become even better,” said R.C. Worrell, a Library Associate at GHPL. “Thanks to the Library Board of Trustees respecting our supportive majority and recognizing our union voluntarily, we were able to get working immediately on a collaborative process toward a fair union contract.”
Pickerington Public Library’s Board of Trustees will have 21 days to decide whether to recognize the union as GHPL did or force an election through the State Employment Relations Board (SERB).
In addition to the public libraries in Worthington & Grandview Heights, staff at five more organizations also formed unions in affiliation with OFT since 2021 (Equitas Health, the School of Bright Promise, Summit Academy in Lorain, Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland, and KIPP Columbus).
“We’ve recently seen a groundswell of support for unions from library workers who feel they need a strong, organized voice that allows them to speak up for their jobs and their libraries,” said Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “Our members across Ohio – in public libraries, K-12 schools, community and technical colleges, and social service agencies – stand completely in solidarity with PPL workers and we urge the library to respect the majority decision and recognize the union.”
On August 30, OFT will be hosting a webinar, “Defending Intellectual Freedom: Library Workers on the Front Line." The webinar will discuss ways that library workers can organize in their workplaces to protect their libraries and their profession. To sign up for the webinar, visit bit.ly/defendlibraries.
“We’re excited to move forward with our union so we can work together for a library that serves the community and provides staff with respect, a liveable wage, and affordable health insurance,” said Krista Graham, a Reference Assistant at PPL.
The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) is a state federation of 58 local unions of active and retired public school teachers and staff, charter school teachers and staff, higher education faculty and staff, social workers, library workers, and public employees. OFT works to advance quality public education, intellectual freedom, and a voice in the workplace for Ohio’s education & public service professionals. OFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.