It’s Official. You Did It!
As we celebrate this Labor Day holiday, you should congratulate yourself on exercising a fundamental right of working Americans – the right to unionize and collectively bargain. You see, after all your hard work the IAM was able to file a petition for union representation on your behalf.
When I think back to how things were when a few employees asked for a meeting over two years ago, and I compare it to how things are now, I’m taken aback. There has been a lot of change across the country, the community and the workplace. One thing that didn’t change was your commitment to forming a union. You lobbied to pass a law, talked to coworkers and signed cards. That hard work put interest well above the required 30% and allowed for an election filing on the first day!
As you know, the notice was delivered to the Director’s office Wednesday morning (09/01/2021). The Director confirmed this in her BCPL Beat in the afternoon of September 2. I applaud the declaration that she and the Board of Trustees intend to remain neutral during this process, but other points in her message are in need of elaboration.
First, she indicates BCPL and the Board of Trustees helped draft and pass the legislation. I realize the Director came into the process midstream, so she might not be aware of the events that occurred prior to her arrival, but this is inaccurate. The bill was written by IAM Associate General Counsel Laura Ewan. After the bill was drafted, IAM Assistant Legislative Director Monica Silbas identified sponsors. From then on, making the bill a law came from the hard work of BCPL employees, guided by the IAM. It was BCPL employees who met with legislators and asked for support. It was BCPL employees who testified for the passage of the bill and BCPL employees who the wrote emails, made phone calls and sent letters to county and state officials. DO NOT LET ANYONE ELSE TAKE CREDIT FOR YOUR HARD WORK!
We should not forget why the hard work was necessary. On February 4, 2021, BCPL Board of Trustees held a closed-door meeting to discuss hiring Cornerstone Government Affairs, a lobbying firm located in Annapolis, Maryland. While the bill was navigating the legislative process, bill sponsors received requests from the BCPL Board and their lobbyists for amendments to change the bill to mimic Howard County’s library law. Howard County’s Library Law requires the Director to receive the names of employees interested in having a union election to verify interest. Ultimately, your bill passed similar to its original draft form, which mirrors Baltimore County’s Labor Code. The cost paid to Cornerstone by the Board of Trustees between Feb 2021 and June 2021 was over $8,100. A link to the lobbying reports can be found here.
Second, I would like to elaborate on employee eligibility. It is true that management, supervisory and confidential employees are ineligible for the unit, but the law provides a clear definition for these categories of employees. The question of supervisory employee seems to be creating the most confusion. Here is the language directly from section 23-701 of the law which indicates the duties and responsibilities of an excluded supervisory employee:
(L) “SUPERVISORY EMPLOYEE” MEANS AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO:
(1) HIRE, TRANSFER, SUSPEND, LAY OFF, RECALL, PROMOTE, DISCHARGE, ASSIGN, REWARD, OR DISCIPLINE EMPLOYEES;
(2) RESPONSIBLY DIRECT EMPLOYEES FOR MORE THAN 50% OF THE EMPLOYEE’S WORKING HOURS; OR
(3) ADDRESS AND RESOLVE THE GRIEVANCES OF EMPLOYEES.
Unless you are authorized to do the above, you are NOT an excluded supervisor.
Now that the petition has been filed, the logical question is, “When is the vote?” It’s coming, but there are a few steps in between. We’ll be able to give you an expected timeline after the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) appoints a neutral official and confirms employee interest. Here is a short video on process (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAUEPoikGs4)
Rest assured we will continue to provide complete information on the entire process. Like the Director, we recognize the importance of this decision and making your voice heard. After all, giving employees a voice at work is the foundation of the labor movement, not to mention the fundamental reason you contacted us for help.
I’ve been asked to host a zoom meeting so employees can ask questions. To accommodate that request and working around the change in library hours, I’ve scheduled the following meetings:
Thursday, September 9 @ 10 am. Meeting ID 826 5632 0604 Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82656320604
Thursday, September 10 @ 7:30 pm. Meeting ID 852 1842 9960 Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85218429960
If neither of those meetings work for you, please reach out to me and we’ll schedule time to talk.
Again, congratulations on achieving this milestone. I look forward to celebrating with you after the election.