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Salt Lake City Public Library workers seek to form first library union in Utah

Photo credit: AFSCME Local 1004.
Salt Lake City Public Library workers seek to form first library union in Utah
By Kathleen Cancio ·

SALT LAKE CITY – Workers across the Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL) system officially announced their unionization efforts with AFSCME Local 1004 and requested voluntary recognition of their union during the library’s Board of Directors meeting last week. 

The library workers, who are organizing under the name Salt Lake City Public Library Workers United (SLCPL Workers United), would cover approximately 245 employees at SLCPL’s nine branches throughout Salt Lake City and be the first library workers union in Utah.  

Standing before a packed room filled with excited staff, union leaders, elected officials and community supporters, representatives of SLCPL Workers United shared testimonials about issues that led to the group’s decision to organize, including pay that falls below the national average and the lack of a voice in the library’s decision-making process.  

Christina Ordonez, an associate librarian at the Riverside branch and a member of the group’s organizing committee, spoke about her experience as a Latina immigrant and warned how a lack of union protections can leave workers vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. 

“Unionizing is not an easy decision, but it is the right decision,” said Ordonez. “It is a decision that will give us the power to negotiate and hold our employers accountable. It is a decision that will provide us with the collective strength to stand up against injustice and inequities.”   

Jacob Rosenzweig, a librarian at the Marmalade branch, sees a union as the only way to provide input in decisions that affect workers and working conditions.  

“As staff, we are paid low wages during a time of rising rent and inflation. We – who serve the public, who help keep our branches clean and safe, who directly implement and feel the effects of every policy – deserve to have real input in the decision-making processes that affect us and the public, and we deserve to be compensated appropriately for it,” he said. “A union can help us achieve that." 

SLCPL workers are the only group of public employees in the city who are excluded from having access to collective bargaining rights. For the group to receive union recognition, the library board of directors and the Salt Lake City Council must both pass resolutions granting them union recognition and collective bargaining rights.    

To support SLCPL Workers United, click here to add your name to their community letter of support.  

AFSCME's Cultural Workers United campaign fights for fair wages and benefits, job security and safe workplaces free from discrimination at museums, libraries, zoos and other cultural institutions nationwide.

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