Library layoffs averted

After weeks of organized public outcry and behind-the-scenes union lobbying, Multnomah County Library found ways to avert most of the layoffs its director announced in July.

Multnomah County Library is funded by a property tax that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic recession, but libraries are closed to the public due to health concerns, and library director Vailey Oehlke announced in July that about a sixth of the library’s work force would be eliminated Sept. 30 —including 122 positions represented by AFSCME Local 88.

But on Sept. 2, the library announced that no bargaining unit members will be involuntarily laid off after all. First, the library eliminated 43 positions that were vacant. About 26 employees agreed to take voluntary layoff or accepted incentives to retire — knowing that doing so would spare a co-worker’s job. They’ll have employer-provided health coverage through the end of the year. About 27 others will be given new jobs at the library. Another 26 will be reassigned to temporary jobs in the county’s emergency operations center, supporting the county’s pandemic response efforts. The temporary jobs will run through Dec. 31. Local 88 representative Eben Pullman said the union hopes that those assignments can be extended.

“This was tough going and got off to an extremely rough start in how library management rolled this out,” Pullman said.

2 Comments on Library layoffs averted

  1. Way to bury the lede and regurgitate the deceitful talking points of management. I recommend a rewrite. Start with your third paragraph. Add that many early retirements were under pressure; the retirees are not happy about being out of work. Add that each reassigned staff member is leaving behind years of hard-won experience and expertise that the Library will not be able to replace; the services they provided will be crippled. Emphasize that many of those reassignments are TEMPORARY, so that the impending layoff shows up on some other department’s books, and again – the services library staff had provided will be crippled. Add that the whole layoff process involves bumping less senior employees and losing expertise at every level and putting staff in positions where they will have to learn new skills, policies, and procedures – at the cost of providing services.

    Publish with this headline:

    LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION RECOILS AND COWERS IN THE FACE OF A NATIONAL EMERGENCY; WE COVER THEIR ASSES

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