As the libraries in NYC implement their reopening plans, our members in Local 1482 now have to confront the realities of returning to their physical workspaces, and questioning whether our work environments are truly safe. The Executive Board of Local 1482 acknowledges the concerns our members have expressed during this transition, and we reassure you that your safety and security are our top concern. You have a right to a workplace that protects your health, the library is obligated to provide it, and the union will protect you and hold the library accountable if your workspaces are not safe.
First and foremost, we expect the library’s decisions will adhere to public health guidance, and guidelines for negotiating public spaces and workplaces, as issued by the CDC, and New York State, and the NYC Department of Health, as well as the Working Conditions Contract between the library and Local 1482.
Taking these documents into account, and holding the health and safety of our members paramount, we make the following demands regarding the reopening of our workplaces to staff and the public:
- That PPE and cleaning supplies are plentiful, and are restocked regularly.
- That clear, comprehensive signage is put in place that communicates mask requirements, and promotes social distancing.
- That cleanliness and wiping down of frequently used surfaces in both public and staff areas is a top priority.
- That branches and work locations are not rushed too quickly from one step to another in the reopening plan, and that the library provides our members with adequate time between steps for review, reflection, and training.
- That processes and physical spaces are configured well in advance and in a way that drastically minimizes, if not eliminates, unsafe confrontations with library users.
- That the library responds concretely to members’ concerns about enforcement of public masking. Work locations should be provided with masks in different sizes for different ages. Further, mask compliance, or lack of it, should play a role in deciding processes and determining timelines for work locations in contemplating moving them from one step to another.
- That the library will recognize and respond to the unique needs and challenges of members who are parents and caregivers in these difficult and uncertain circumstances.
- That staff working from home are provided the technology and training needed to meet the expectations of the library, and the initiatives they promote.
- We demand the union be involved in decision-making as work locations move through steps in the reopening plan from this point onward.
Since lockdown began in March, our interactions with the library have largely involved their reaching out to the union after-the-fact about decisions already reached. In recent days, the union has been able to engage in a dialogue with the library. And as a result, the union has achieved agreement on the following:
- That work locations will be provided with a cleaning checklist, to be delivered the week of July 13.
- That members who have previously been instructed to clock in on Sum Total will not have to do so.
More work locations will open in different phases in the coming days and weeks. The demands above are not comprehensive or locked in place, We recognize they can change and added to based on the evolving public health environment and issues that arise in our members’ work locations in the coming weeks.
To that end, we invite our membership to report conditions and areas of concern about their work lives, especially now that reopening has moved beyond paper and documents and Zoom meetings, and into our members’ lives and everyday movements. We have created a form, located here, where you can share information with what’s going on and what you observe. The content submitted will be accessible to everyone serving on the Executive Board of Local 1482, which we feel will expedite responses, provide perspectives across a variety of titles and levels of experience, and will allow us to track trends and patterns.
If you are not able to fill out the form, please reach out to any member currently serving on the Executive Board.
We thank you in advance for your submissions and feedback. Please be well.