Unionized Peoria library workers stage picket to draw attention to impasse in contract negotiations
Dozens of unionized Peoria Public Library employees participated in an informational picket Saturday outside the library’s North Branch, calling attention to ongoing labor negotiations that have reached an impasse.
“We just want the public to know what's been going on for a while, and that we've been without a contract since Jan. 1,” said Katy Bauml, a reference assistant at the Lakeview Branch who also serves as the secretary for AFSCME Local 3464.
“We're mostly at this point discussing wages. We're professionals who have degrees and advanced degrees and we should be compensated for them.”
The Saturday picket coincided with the library’s kickoff of its Summer Reading Location at the North Branch.
“The services our members provide are second to none,” said Rob Fanti, AFSCME’s chief negotiator assigned to Local 3464. “We've gotten letters of support from the public to show that the work that these people do is vital to the community and to our children.”
The two sides are scheduled to enter mediation beginning Wednesday. Library executive director Randall Yelverton told WCBU he could not comment on the negotiations, but said the employees are valuable to the library system and he’s hopeful for a mutually beneficial agreement.
“We're not trying to get rich on this contract,” said Fanti. “We just settled contracts with the City of Peoria employees and also the Civic Center employees, and we got fair contracts out of both of them. But we're miles apart with the library right now. What they have on the table barely, and in some cases, it doesn't cover minimum wage.”