Sharing the Facts to Clarify Confusion around Negotiations between Cleveland Public Library and SEIU District 1199

Cleveland Public Library is in negotiations with SEIU District 1199. The Library is bargaining in good faith for a strong and sustainable future – to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, fulfill our promises to the community, and to secure the future of the organization so it can continue to evolve over the next 150 years. 

The truth is important. We hope you will examine the information below that clarifies several concerns raised by SEIU and provides context for the negotiations.  

Wages and Staffing

Claim: Cleveland Public Library doesn’t pay its employees fairly. 

FACT. The average Cleveland Public Library union staff is among the highest paid union library staff in the state of Ohio, with some positions earning 50-60% more than their counterparts in libraries in Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and Dayton according to a survey conducted by an organization with extensive experience with libraries represented by SEIU.  

FACT. Currently, starting salaries for most new hires at CPL are between $17.50 and $24.00 per hour with a generous benefits package.

Claim: Library staff haven’t received raises in 10 years 

FACT. Union staff have received raises each year for the past five years. There are no wage freezes and there have not been wage freezes for the last five years. No wage freezes have been proposed. 

Claim: Cleveland Public Library executives have received large increases while union staff has not received any increases. 

FACT. Union staff have received raises each year for the past five year. 66% of the Cleveland Public Library budget for salaries and benefits goes to Library staff represented by either SEIU or Local 860. This ratio will remain the same for 2020. In response to the departure of the deputy director in May 2019, some executive team members did receive increases in salary due to promotions or added responsibilities. These increases, along with any new hires or increases to union or non-union staff, did not lower the 66% ratio.  

Claim: Three marketing personnel were hired to the tune of $150,000. 

Fact: While three marketing professionals have been hired, including one SEIU member, the total combined salary is $150,000. As stated, the SEIU statement reads as if each salary is $150,000, which is false.  

Claim: Cleveland Public Library fails to hire bargaining unit staff, which is leaving staffing levels low. 

Fact. Cleveland Public Library is actively working to fill vacancies and has budgeted to add union staff in our neighborhood branches. The Library’s proposals seek to maximize the number of staff available to help patrons while protecting jobs, preventing the need for pay cuts, and preventing a reduction in hours.

Bargaining in Good Faith

  • In September, the Library offered to extend the current contract by one year with a cost-of-living increase and a bonus to ensure the teams had time to thoughtfully consider proposals and come to agreement. This offer was rejected by SEIU.  
  • The Library and SEIU mutually agreed to the use of a mediator from the very outset of negotiations to facilitate the process.  
  • Negotiations have been constructive and productive:  the Library and SEIU have already reached tentative agreement on all but three non-economic articles. 
  • SEIU proposed to go to fact finding in early December. The Library proposed terms for fact finding and SEIU verbally rejected factfinding in a recent session.
  • From mid-November through December, the Library has offered negotiations dates into January. SEIU has declined.
  • The next scheduled for negotiations is January 23. On January 17th, both parties agreed to additional dates in February.

We urge SEIU to join us at the bargaining table to work together to build a strong and sustainable future with little to no disruption to our community.