Kellogg-Hubbard Library union alleges violation
By David Taube
STAFF WRITER | December 29,2012
MONTPELIER — The union for Kellogg-Hubbard Library has complained to the state Labor Relations Board and a third-party arbitrator that the library illegally shifted three employees out of the union as part of a change in job titles and duties.
The library has suggested there is no merit to the charge, which comes as the union is negotiating a new contract. In addition to the Labor Relations Board complaint, the union is trying to resolve through arbitration the issue of which employees belong to the union.
“This is something that was supposed to be negotiated,” said Kellogg-Hubbard staffer Ruth McCullough, a union member.
The library’s attorney, Richard Cassidy, said the union contract was not breached.
In November the library decided to shift certain employees outside the union, according to a letter filed with the Labor Relations Board that was written by Michael Blair, a representative for the Northeast council of the union, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees.
The new job titles and duties affected two librarians and one financial assistant position.
The library has argued the three supervisory positions are new midlevel management jobs outside the union and that the previous three positions have not been eliminated. Cassidy said the library made a hire for one of the positions, the financial assistant, last week.
“Three members of the bargaining unit were invited to apply for these new jobs. They did so, and were promoted,” said a five-page response from Cassidy to the labor complaint. “The library did not add supervisory duties to the existing job descriptions. It created new management jobs.”
Cassidy said he provided consultation to the library before it did the restructuring.
The union’s two-year agreement runs until Monday. It initially covered 13 employees, but McCullough, the library staffer, said eight positions were in the union currently. That figure does not include the three positions that were recently made non-union, she said.
McCullough said the last time the union dealt with the Labor Relations Board was in 1994. In the spring, the union made concessions in hours to help the library, she said.
The disagreement comes as the library is seeking voter support on March ballots for additional funding from municipalities that support the nonprofit. Kellogg-Hubbard this year also dealt with the departures of its top two executives, Executive Director Daniel Pudvah and Library Director Robin Sales. A new director, Richard Bidnick, came on board in the summer.
The parties met this month with the Labor Relations Board. The union and management plan to meet again in early January. Often, however, disputes are resolved without participation by the Labor Relations Board, said Timothy Noonan, its executive director.
Resolution could also come via a new contract; if the library petitioned the labor board for a “unit clarification,” which could clear up whether the positions are within or outside the union; or through arbitration.
According to the response letter from Cassidy, who is representing the library on behalf of the Burlington law firm Hoff Curtis, P.C., filing for unit clarification was not mandatory and the library’s actions complied with labor law.
Also in November, the library announced higher late fees and shorter borrowing periods. Late fees for DVDs increased from 50 cents to $1 a day, and initial loan periods for children’s materials went from four weeks to two weeks. A one-day grace period will be eliminated April 1.
New books, however, can now be renewed. Also, exceptions can be granted for certain patrons unable to renew by phone or online.