Letter: Library employees need a living wage

Posted

To the editor:

The Trustees of the Rogers Free Library are dismayed (and very concerned) by the position Town of Bristol officials have taken relative to salary increases for the staff of the Rogers Free Library.

Read the Bristol Phoenix's coverage of the issue here.

Two weeks ago, the front page article of the Bristol Phoenix spoke volumes about the benefits of belonging to a union. All library staff are non-union employees.

Here are the facts:

  • The staff of the Rogers Free Library are non-union. Of the seven salaried employees, six have bachelor’s degrees, and four have master’s degrees.
  • Their current salaries are grossly below salaries made by people in comparable positions in libraries all over the state.
  • Last year they received increases of 2.5 percent and were promised that 2014-15 would be better. The Town Administrator promised to work on it.
  • Non-salaried employees at the library had an increase in 2013 as well, but it was insignificant since they receive no health care, no vacation days, and no sick time. Many of them still work for slightly more than a minimum wage. Among the non-salaried staff, 17 have college degrees.
  • Job responsibilities have changed, costs of living have increased, and advanced degrees are expensive. But you know all that.
  • If we are to maintain our programs and services and meet state standards (especially with regard to technology), we must upgrade compensation.

Early in the budget cycle, The Trustees of the Rogers Free Library made a researched, documented appeal to the Town Council. We provided facts and figures demonstrating why library compensation needed to be improved. We even provided suggestions for where the additional funding could come from (not from taxpayers).

We were told that NO municipal employees would be receiving increases in the 2015 cycle. While we were sorely disappointed by that news, at least it was equitable across the board. Now all of that has changed. Union employees will get increases; non-union employees will not.

The library trustees do not want our staff to receive more than anyone else. We simply want fair and equitable treatment. Non-union workers have living costs too.

We appeal to the citizens of Bristol to contact the members of the council and encourage them to grant raises equivalent to what the town’s Union employees will be receiving. Please attend the public Budget Meeting on June 5 at 7 p.m. at the Burnside Building.

You may contact members of the Town Council via the Town’s website.

Elizabeth Brito

Chairwoman

Trustees of Rogers Free Library

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