Employees at the Homewood Public Library say they have reached a tentative agreement on a contract with the library board.
Details of the package were not available. Employees organized with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 31 after their weekly hours were reduced by two or four hours per week in 2015, librarian Sandy Sullivan said Wednesday.
The library has only three full-time employees working 37 hours per week. In 2015, the remainder of staff — approximately 50 employees — had their hours cut. Specific numbers on staffing were not available. A union representative said while some employees kept their vacation and sick leave, others lost those benefits.
Sullivan called the change “an unkind hit” because it meant lost pay and reduced contributions into Social Security and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Staff also lost vacation time that accumulates based on the hours worked in the previous year.
Sullivan said the tentative agreement was reached at a bargaining session on Wednesday, April 17, and will be outlined for AFSCME members who will vote on the package. She did not have a specific timetable. The proposal is expected to come to the library board for a vote at its next meeting on May 15.
The contract will extend to June 30, 2021.
AFSCME said members had been negotiating a contract for four years. Employees have become vocal about the lack of a contract since former library director Amy Crump took a new position in December.
AFSCME members and supporters came out in force at the March library board meeting, picketed outside the library for National Library Week and addressed the Homewood Village Board about the lack of a contract.
Having a contract in place will remove the burden of negotiations from a new library director. The library board is whittling down the field of 24 candidates and will be conducting interviews with semifinalists to select the finalists.
The board voted April 17 to close the library from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 9 to give the finalists time to meet with the staff. The library will reopen at 1 p.m. giving the candidates a chance to see the library in operation.
The board expects to name the new director at the end of the day May 9, said interim library director Kathy Parker.