Marysville Library (Sno-Isle Libraries)

Marysville Library (Sno-Isle Libraries)

Sno-Isle library workers make demands in plan to unionize

In an open letter, staff said “too often decisions are made by people far removed from the day-to-day operations of community libraries.”

MARYSVILLE — Sno-Isle Libraries workers announced a plan to unionize Friday, calling for a stop to “arbitrary changes” to work schedules and “uncompensated work,” among other demands.

Library workers intend to join AFSCME Council 2. The proposed library union would be called Sno-Isle Libraries Employees United.

The Sno-Isle library system has 23 locations and a mobile library in Snohomish and Island County, including libraries in Arlington, Lake Stevens, Marysville, Monroe, Mukilteo, Stanwood and Snohomish. The bargaining unit would represent about 370 workers.

An open letter on the website for the proposed Sno-Isle union read that “too often decisions are made by people far removed from the day-to-day operations of community libraries. We, who are most impacted by these decisions, are rarely consulted.”

Unionizing aims to give workers “equal footing” in decision-making that directly affects them, the letter said.

The letter asked library leadership not to try to prevent unionization, adding that even if some things change for the better after their announcement, “we know from long-standing experience that we cannot rely on them to consistently keep our interests in mind.”

Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Lois Langer Thompson released a brief statement Friday.

“The heart of our community libraries are our people,” she said. “We are committed to listening to everyone’s voice. We have a great staff and look forward to continuing to work together to provide great library service for our customers.”

A spokesperson for the library system said Thompson was traveling Friday and unable to make a longer statement until next week. She did not immediately respond to the proposed union’s grievances and demands.

Union organizers couldn’t get The Herald in touch with library workers wishing to comment in time for a deadline Friday.

The union’s website includes pictures of workers holding signs explaining why they want to unionize.

One reads: “We are the library’s greatest resource and we all deserve to be heard.”

Another says: “Staff deserve to feel safe and welcome in our libraries too.”

Sno-Isle is currently the only public library system in Western Washington that does not have a union, according to an AFSCME press release.

Service coordinator Anne Murphy said in a statement that the union had support from “an overwhelming majority of staff.”

AFSCME represents more than 275 libraries, according to their statement, including the Seattle Public Library.

The Everett Public Library is a separate system run through the city. Everett library staff are already unionized.

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

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