Library Staff Seeks to Join Union

August 31, 2023
By Rachel Scofield

On August 10, staff at Pickerington Public Library (PPL) marched into the library’s administrative office to present copies of the application cards that they had filed to be affiliated with the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT).

“We’re forming our union, Pickerington Public Library United Staff (PPLUS), because we want to make sure that we continue to have a strong and supportive work environment that will make PPL a place that everyone wants to work for,” said Grace Walker, a youth services librarian at PPL. “We’re asking our library’s administration to respect the decision we collectively made and recognize our union.”

In a statement, the PPLUS organizing committee supplied more context to why they want to unionize.

More than 70% of eligible Pickerington Public Library workers signed union cards because we need and deserve a voice in the policies that affect us. We also want to ensure that PPL jobs are quality, family-sustaining jobs, and we want to do our part to help our library live out our mission of “inspiring learning, connecting community, enriching our world, and fostering a love of reading.”

Until their union is certified, PPLUS does not plan to publicly discuss the specifics of what its members want.

We look forward to discussing specific policies and proposals with our library’s administration when our union is certified. We think that is the most appropriate forum for that discussion. 

As a union, any contract proposals we come up with would be determined by a collaborative process that includes surveying all union members. That will happen after we win our union election. However, we’re forming our union because we love our library and want it to thrive. We will not be proposing pay and benefits that are beyond our library’s capacity.  

We believe that forming a union will be a win-win-win outcome for staff, administration, and patrons. As a small library system, a union voice for staff will facilitate more cooperation and clearcut workplace policies. This will help our library system overcome obstacles, like the lack of a full-time human resources director. 

At their August meeting, the library’s board of trustees voted to respect the rights of the staff to organize. All eligible staff will be given the opportunity to vote through a secret ballot whether or not they wish to join the union.

However, before that vote can happen, the State Employee Relations Board (SERB) must confirm which job positions at the library will be eligible for inclusion. That timeframe falls under SERB’s purview.

Library Director Tony Howard said that the trustees and administrators are prepared to recognize the union pending the results of the secret ballot vote.

“We follow an open-door approach from our entry level leaders through our executive leadership team,” Howard said. “Additionally, all staff have direct access to the library’s board of trustees through open board meetings and as outlined in the library’s grievance policy.”

The library’s policies and procedures can be found on the its website, including both public policies as well as our employee handbook.

OFT represents nearly 20,000 teachers, school staff, library workers and social work professionals. In 2021 and 2022, library workers at Worthington Libraries and Grandview Heights Public Library formed unions in affiliation with OFT.