Quick Hit Matthew Blake Wednesday January 11th, 2012, 10:41am

Grievance Filed By Union Representing Library Workers

AFSCME Local 1215, the union that represents Chicago Public Library workers, filed a grievance Tuesday with the Chicago Public Library over the closing of branch libraries all day Monday without the union’s consultation.

The closing of branch libraries all day Monday went into effect this week, even as talks continued between the union local and CPL.

Rahm Emanuel and the City Council agreed in November to a library budget plan that included 184 employee layoffs and cutting four hours from both Monday and Friday branch library hours.

But the plan was always contingent on union approval. So far AFSCME has refused to agree to any reduced hours – or any employee layoffs. The city gave pink slips to 176 library workers last week.

“The grievance is a side issue,” says Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, the statewide public employees union, which includes Local 1215. “The big issue is public access to libraries 48 hours a week.”

“The city’s goal is to figure out how to close the libraries eight hours each week,” Lindall says. “Our goal is not close the libraries at all and bring back the 176 jobs lost a week ago.”

At a press conference Monday, Emanuel accused AFSCME of using the library issue as a “bargaining chip,” for a “host of other subjects.” However, Emanuel refused to elaborate what these subjects were.

Calls to the mayor’s office were not returned.

AFSCME would not speculate on what Emanuel meant. Lindall did acknowledge that the union was also still working with the city on averting public health cuts, including the proposed closure of six of the city’s twelve mental health clinics.

“We continue to work on many fronts to preserve those clinics and prevent the layoffs of the dedicated health workers whose jobs are now threatened,” Lindall wrote in a follow-up e-mail.

The city’s decision to close libraries all day Monday was first announced last Thursday on the Chicago Public Library’s facebook page.

It has incensed some aldermen like Scott Waguespack (32nd) who thought that they had previously struck a compromise with the mayor to keep branch libraries open six days a week. Waguespack pointed out in an interview with the Sun-Times Friday that many people kick off their week by doing work in a library.

The closures also take away a place for latchkey kids, and any other child who needs a safe place to hang out. Parts of the city are crying out for a safe center for kids – like Englewood where the Rev. Corey Brooks lives in a tent he pitched on the roof of vacant South Side hotel to raise awareness (and money) for a community youth center in the neighborhood.

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