April 13, 2010

In spite of City Council's wishes, public library unlikely to open on Sundays

The city budget includes $33,000 to open the Racine Public Library on Sundays during the school year. But it's probably not going to happen.

Union contracts appear to be preventing Sunday hours at the library.

The library's Board of Trustees and its two unions have contracts that prevent the board from adding Sunday hours without renegotiating the contracts. That's unlikely, considering the board recently agreed to a contract with its part-time union workers. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the new contract Tuesday.

City Librarian Jessica MacPhail spoke in favor of the contract Monday before the Finance and Personnel Committee, which voted 4-1 in favor of ratifying the agreement. The contract includes, for the first time, paid time off for the library's part-time workers, who make a large portion of the library staff. Part-time city workers do not receive vacation or sick days.

The new contract brings an end to a year-long negotiation between the union and the library board, but puts the library at odds with the City Council's intention to open the library on Sundays. The council voted to increase the tax levy $33,000 to pay for the Sunday hours after city residents complained the library wasn't open the entire weekend during the school year.

MacPhail said working with the council and the part-time workers union on Sunday hours proved to be a difficult situation for the board.

"We were conducting two negotiations at once," she said.

But MacPhail added she believed once the council approved the $33,000 for Sunday hours back in November that the library would be able to implement as soon as Jan. 1.

"It has taken a lot longer than anyone anticipated," she said.

If the City Council approves the union contract for the library's part-time workers, it will be up to the library's Board of Trustees to reopen negotiations to include the Sunday hours. Both of the library's employee unions were opposed to adding Sunday hours during past negotiations, she said.

MacPhail said she didn't know if the board would consider renegotiating the contract.

If the board doesn't reopen the issue, it's unclear what would happen to the $33,000. In theory, the library could request to spend the money in other areas. However, because the money was set aside for a specific purpose, it's likely the council would reclaim the money and return it to the city's general fund.


  1. Compare Racine's library to most others in small or large towns and we come up short.
    The building is butt ugly and is a lousy design. No decent meeting rooms, noisy, cramped.
    Tear it and the YMCA down and put up a new one.

  2. Anonymous 6:10

    The City will gratefully accept your donation to make that happen...and name it after you.

  3. How and why did the library lose the right to stay open on Sundays without the unions approval?

    Paid time off for the library's part-time workers is a major win for their union, especially in these tough economic times. What did the library receive in return?

  4. Kay what where you saying about the City needing union workers?

  5. City Council does not run the Library. The Library Board runs the Library.

  6. Re-read the article. The unions run the library.

    The majority of union workers are now employed by governments. The private sector can no longer afford them, but our tax dollars are endless.

  7. Unions are the demise of everything from industry - they caused them to close or move, to education where teachers are more concerned about benefits than they are teaching and now the library. We should eliminate all unions - they only think about themselves.

  8. With the huge budget crisis all governments are going through, it should not even be a passing thought that the library spend this money on something else. Give it back to the city.....

    And if the unions don't want to work on sundays, I am POSITIVE that they could find part time workers that will come in for just sundays. If only the city could get some balls and stand up to the unions.

  9. Why do city workers and elected officials live like kings while those that pay their wages live like paupers?

    Those who work have to support themselves, everyone on welfare, and everyone in government. It's not going to last much longer - there just aren't enough jobs and wages to pay for all the freeloaders.

  10. Maybe the Library Board should spend less time promoting feel-good projects and more time negotiating a labor agreement best for the citizens.

    It is a disgrace that we have the money and a bunch of union flacks stand in the way. Either that, or the Board does in fact have no backbone.

    PS - I wouldn't be surprised if the Lib Director secretly sides with the union.

  11. "City Council does not run the Library. The Library Board runs the Library."

    The City Council signs the checks that run the library.

  12. "city residents complained the library wasn't open the entire weekend during the school year."

    Yeah, they complained because then they couldn't dump their kids off at the library to sit on the computers and jerk around on Facebook and MySpace all afternoon.

  13. You wanna know why the employee unions are opposed to adding Sunday hours? Because it's only THREE hours that the libray was open on Sundays! What business do you know that's only open from 1-4 p.m.? How moronic.

    Equally moronic: The library doesn't open until 11 a.m. or noon (can't remember which one) on Saturdays! What other library do you know of that isn't open on a Saturday morning, when people are out running errands? It's retarded.

    The Racine library needs to be open ALL day on Saturday and be closed on Sunday. They obviously can't handle or afford both, so why not just pool your resources and be open one full day on the weekend? These psychotic hours on the weekends show desperation.

  14. "We should eliminate all unions - they only think about themselves."

    Um, duh? That's kind of the point of a union, right? In a world where libraries are increasingly undervalued and budget cuts are forcing layoffs, wouldn't you do anything you could to protect your job?

    When the Library Board voted to open again on Sunday's, the journal times reported that only one community member showed up to support re-opening. If you want something to happen, then show up and make it happen. If not, please stop complaining.

  15. In a world where libraries are increasingly undervalued and budget cuts are forcing layoffs, wouldn't you do anything you could to protect your job?

    This isn't about protecting jobs, they are turning down work.

  16. If the City nor County nor other government controls the library then thost government agencies shouldn't have to fund it. There is a big budget cut right there for the City.

    Thanks for clearing that up. Note to Mayor... see how easy it is to find budget cuts.

  17. 11:51 you said "Um, duh? That's kind of the point of a union, right?" No, they should also think about who they work for and what their demands will do to the bottom line. That's why industry has closed or left Racine, because the unions would not negotiate - they would rather be on unemployment than work - duh!

  18. "In a world where libraries are increasingly undervalued and budget cuts are forcing layoffs, wouldn't you do anything you could to protect your job?"

    Great way to make allies with the tax payers. I sure this will come back on the Unions at RPL

  19. "Thanks for clearing that up. Note to Mayor... see how easy it is to find budget cuts."

    Yeah, that is really easy. Try proposing this one and see how fast people are out in front of City Hall with signs.

  20. Wow the city is in obviously very capable hands? Not so we allocated monies for the library on Sunday but forgot to consult the blood sucking union prior to making our plan.
    You all are collectively incompetent.
    This is as pathetic as anything I have ever watched any level of govt. do.

  21. Should read Not!!!!!! So we allocated................
    Typo sorry?

  22. The part-time workers only unionized in the last year or two - the full time workers have always been in a union.

    Personally, when the part-timers started organizing, there was some under-the-radar sentiment about how stupid it all was: Wow, your job shelving books or checking people's books out is soooo hard and unfair that you need union protection? What a joke!

    It was all based on envy of the part-timers for the full-timers getting union "benefits." People today are so thin-skinned, crying like babies because full-timers with college degrees (and some with master's degrees) actually get paid professional salaries for professional work.

    People who shelve books are the same as people who flip burgers.

  23. I worked at the library a few years ago while I was in high school. The part-timers are nothing more than crazy Liberals from Walden that think they are "entitled" to everything the full-time employees get. All they did was whine and complain. I only lasted a few months in that environment.

    The full-time people that worked in the day while we were at school were borderline retarded. They took forever to sort and shelve books. I was reprimanded for "working too hard" and making them look bad. Everyone punched their timeclock to the minue. Again I was reprimanded because I worked unil 9:00pm and didn't put down 9:03pm (making them look bad).

    Those that are still working there were smart to unionize. Without forming that union, most of them would be terminated for lack of performance in the private sector. Typical government job!

  24. I worked there too a few years ago. Was not a happy place back stabbing staff strange place

  25. Well, what do you expect? Most libraries are staffed with crazy liberals - and liberals are always bitter (even though they think they're always happy.)

    I feel bad for anyone conservative who works in that kind of environment. It must be very difficult, what with places like West Bend's library trying to keep manuals on gay sex in the YOUTH library.

  26. First of all, NOT ALL FULL TIME EMPLOYEES are on the union. The main people who are on a union are the reference librarians. It is just not the "part-time" people who are crying like babies to get this union passed, they all have their own reasons for the union. Second, it is not the full-time people who shelve the books it is the part-timers, so who is the retarded one who thought that? And yes some of them even have degees, and NO it is NOT IN BURGER FLIPPING!!!! Third, what are they talking about punching time clocks ?? They don't punch time clocks! And you say you worked there, boy you sure don't know much about the place, so who is retarded?You people better get your facts straight before you start writing things you have no knowledge about, even the article is wrong!

  27. I don't know what Duhcrap is all talking about, but the part-timers at the library ARE a bunch of lefty cry-baby whiners. And yes, they are the same as burger flippers. Bottom of the totem pole is bottom of the totem pole, pal. Do the lowest job at the library and you get the lowest pay with no benefits. That's life.

  28. Just to clarify ... Both library unions were open to reopening on Sunday. However one union asked that the hours be offered on a senority basis and the other asked that library managment be available during ALL of the hours the library is open. Management was not open to these options and withdrew from negotiations. The union is NOT the bad guy here.