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Union nixes concessions, braces for layoffs at Queens libraries – QNS.com

Union nixes concessions, braces for layoffs at Queens libraries

City Councilman Leroy Comrie protests with members of the library's union. Some of the members will be laid off next month. Photo by Ivan Pereira
By Ivan Pereira

The city’s budget may have saved the Queens library from massive cuts, but it was not enough to save the jobs of nearly four dozen employees.

The union that represents those workers said the 46 layoffs are planned for Sept. 3. John Hyslop, president of Local 1321, said administrators gave the union an offer that would have resulted in no job losses, but they would have had to make permanent concessions.

Under that deal, which the union rejected in a 297-50 vote July 20, annual vacation time would not be carried over to the next year and there would be five days of furloughs.

Hyslop said that although the union thought the concessions were not too severe for his members, who include librarians, office aides and other personnel, they balked at approving them because the library would not guarantee that there would be no layoffs next year.

“The concessions they wanted to give would not fix [the budget] problem. The next year the library would still lay off people,” Hyslop said.

During the library’s negotiations with the city over its budget, 329 Queens library employees were giving layoff notices, but all but the 46 were rescinded, according to the union president. Those who will be laid off include two security guards, two librarians and the rest are office aides, Hyslop said.

Thomas Galante, chief executive officer for the Queens Public Library, said it worked hard to try and avoid the layoffs.

“Every Queens Library staff member is an important resource for the community. Losing anyone is regrettable,” he said.

He noted the library had $17.6 million restored from the city in the current budget, but it needed more money to fill its own budget gap.

One of the employees slated to lose their job said they were disappointed with the library’s decision and questioned how it made the choices for who was getting let go. The employee, who asked not to be identified, said they had been working for nearly three years at a branch, but others who worked less time had their termination notice rescinded.

“There is a lot of confusion,” the employee said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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