Rochester, N.Y. -- On Tuesday, April 10, during National Library Week, communities across the country will observe National Library Workers Day. The recession, caused by the collapse of the Wall Street casino economy, means AFSCME and CSEA library members continue to confront severe budget cuts while, at the same time, our communities desperately need the services libraries offer. And library workers have always been a strong voice for free and open access to knowledge and information. Yet the voice of library workers, and of other public employees - their right to have a union and to collectively bargain – is under attack.
Meanwhile, libraries across the country are being threatened with closures and privatization. Here is how Library Systems and Services, Inc. (LSSI), the only company in the private library business, explains their philosophy: “A lot of libraries are atrocious. Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us; you’re going to have to work.” [Frank A. Pezzanite, Executive Chairman of LSSI, as quoted in the New York Times, September 26, 2010]
New York Library advocates must protect our public libraries and our system services. AFSCME and CSEA represent more library workers than any other union and is a powerful advocate for libraries and library workers. Indeed, education, training, and library occupations are among the most unionized in the United States (36.8% in 2011). We encourage you to observe National Library Workers Day, a time to honor the contributions of AFSCME and CSEA members, including librarians, technicians, support staff and others, who make libraries happen and who are doing more with less.