Library union president lays out worker demands at IndyPL board meeting

by Michael Torres

The following statement was first given by Michael Torres at the December 13 IndyPL board meeting.

Conversations with Library leadership began quickly after Jackie was fired, early September. Our union leadership heard admin express the need for open conversation and eagerness to better the relationship with the union. Because the former CEO and HR Director often went unchecked when referencing the union our remedy was to include union leadership in the Executive Committee and Manager Committee meetings. If trust is to be rebuilt then union presence in these committees and discussions is an easy fix. No answer yet, but…

We aim for union leadership to be included in these committees/conversations and we’d like to report at next month’s board meeting that a resolution has been agreed upon.

Tonight’s Appointment List of wages that’s on your agenda is a standard procedure. Normally, the union is presented a wages proposals to sign off but has not happened and is mute after you sign off on it tonight. So…

We aim to bring this entire process back to the negotiations table before ANY wages are advertised.

Also, concerning benefits, when the union learned a bonus was being considered for 2021 we asked if that money could be used for an additional percentage added to our hourly rate instead. We were told no because if the hourly rate was increased, next year’s salary budget would start off higher. OK. Don’t we have a year to work on the budget to present to CCC? I didn’t see that as a problem.

When you consider that the December 12, 2021 article from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics stated: “The all items index rose 6.8 percent for the 12 months ending November, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982.”

And the November 11, 2021 Bloomberg article states: Average hourly earnings rose 4.9% in October from the prior year, higher than the pre-pandemic rate. But the pay boost was still not enough to keep up with inflation running at 6.2% last month

With the exception of the city shutting down last March, our members have not stopped working since this pandemic began almost two years ago. Service interruptions were minimal but system wide. Even with the very publicly debated disagreements between the Library leadership and the union on the subject of weddings continuing we showed up to serve our community. We know that extra percentage would’ve helped.

Budgets have been planned way in advance, before the union is consulted, and that has to change. We aim to be there at the beginning.

Quite a few people at the top are doing phenomenally well when it comes to salaries. For example, I’ve been here 24 years and I’ve not even hit midpoint in my salary. In comparison, a few who have been here way less time, some a few months, are closer to their midpoint than I am. I’m not making it about me, this is happening system wide.

Climate Study

Last month, Ice Miller facilitator, Myra Selby, gave an update on the Climate Improvement Study and as a Go-Team member I’d like to say, our group is taking on a lot of work and a huge responsibility. I strongly suggested in our last Go Team meeting that the entire process be spelled out to staff; from beginning to end, as many ways as needed if they wanted healthy participation because once Ice Miller collects and analyzes the data we are on our own to make any changes. It’s not clear who will be responsible for deciding what changes to make. Maybe that’s coming but I’m concerned any unknowns could hinder participation and if this fails, will we be blamed? It feels like a Catch-22 situation.

Our community deserves to know that their library workers, who are providing the services and resources they ask for, are in positive work environment. That’s our commitment.

Thank you,
Michael Torres, president

AFSCME Local 3395-Indy Library Workers