Library workers fight harsh cuts

13 Aug

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By GREGORY N. HEIRES
DC 37’s library union activists are hitting the streets, reaching out to community organizations and writing and emailing politicians to convince the City Council to restore Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s budget cuts, which management at the city’s three library systems says would cause 900 layoffs and end six-day service.

“Cutting funding for services in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression is the exact opposite of what the people of New York City need,” said Eileen Muller, president of Brooklyn Public Library Guild Local 1482. Bloomberg’s budget would force Brooklyn Public Library to lay off 35 employees, said President Linda Johnson.

Muller spoke April 18 at a rally in City Hall Park. Two employee bands, Brooklyn Public Library’s Lost in the Stacks and Queens Library’s Dewy and the Decimals, played at the rally and Elvis Duran of Z100 radio spoke.

Library workers gathered signatures on a petition calling for restoration of the funding. The protest was sponsored by New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Vincent J. Gentile.

“We are tired of doing this budget dance every year,” said Valentin Colon, president of New York Public Library Guild Local 1930. “The city should end its spring practice of slashing services and jobs. Why can’t it just do what’s right and provide the proper funding?”

NYPL President Anthony Marx told the City Council that Bloomberg’s $44 million cut would force the library to eliminate 682 positions, 610 through layoffs. Queens Library President Thomas Galante announced at the rally that the cuts would generate 251 pink slips.

“Our members love providing library services,” said Queens Library Guild Local 1321 President John Hyslop March 13 at a City Council budget hearing. “But every budget threatens layoffs and more work with less. This is a very real and serious problem.”

Cuthbert Dickenson, president of Quasi-Public Employees Local 374, which represents blue-collar workers at the NYPL, said the libraries provide vital services to the unemployed and many poor people who don’t have Internet access at home. Gutting those services, he said, would hurt those affected directly and slow the overall economic recovery
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