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.