Salt Lake board takes ‘first step’ toward approving library workers’ union efforts

Sep 6, 2023, 7:30 AM | Updated: Oct 23, 2023, 12:32 pm

slc main library...

An aerial view of the Salt Lake City Public Library Main Branch on July 27, 2021. Salt Lake City library workers are one step closer to being the first in the state to unionize following a resolution that library leaders approved last week. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Employees of the Salt Lake City Public Library System say they are “very excited” about the direction unionization efforts are going after the agency’s board of directors voted last week to approve a resolution pledging to work with the union toward a collective bargaining agreement.

Board members approved the resolution unanimously during their meeting on Aug. 28, potentially paving the way for the city’s library system to be the first in the state to unionize.

The resolution recognizes that some library employees are seeking to affiliate with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It also states that the board is “committed to continuing dialogue” with the union over the matter and that the board will work toward a formal collective bargaining agreement.

It adds that the Salt Lake City Council must approve the final agreement before it goes into effect.

“I am very excited by the library board’s resolution,” said Bryce Hays, a city library employee, in a statement Tuesday. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I am feeling optimistic and looking forward to working alongside my colleagues as we navigate the steps that lie ahead.”

The resolution signals the biggest step forward in the process since several librarians announced their desire to unionize in April. Those seeking to unionize said that they wanted a stronger voice over “long-standing issues” tied to their jobs, such as safety concerns, below-average wages and workplace decisions.

About two-thirds of Salt Lake City’s 3,200 full-time employees are represented by three unions, including the American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees. Library workers represent the largest department of city employees who aren’t under a collective bargaining agreement.

That’s still the case even with the resolution in place. Adam Weinacker, president of the Salt Lake City Public Library System Board of Directors, explained during the Aug. 28 meeting that the resolution doesn’t determine who qualifies to be a part of the union, which must be hashed out in the future.

Employees would still have to vote to ratify their intention to move forward with collective bargaining negotiations and the city library system would likely bring in additional legal counsel to “represent our interest” during future negotiations, he added.

“We’re hopeful that this is kind of that first step that is being requested,” he said.

Jerry Philpot, president of the local American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees union, said he’s thankful for the “first steps” in the lengthy process. It’s a process that he hopes ends with library workers formally unionizing.

“We are excited to work with (the board) expeditiously to finalize the union recognition process,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “Once that is done, workers will be able to establish a respectful and collaborative relationship with management that will benefit everyone in the library.”

Related: Salt Lake City librarians seek to unionize, solve ‘long-standing issues’ on the job

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Business + Economy

a utah child care provider and several children...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: A look inside the child care crisis

You've heard about the child care crisis in Utah. Parents can't afford child care. Child care workers can't afford to live on what they make.

17 hours ago

Rural wildlife firefighters, "Hot Shots"...

Michael Camit

Utah is struggling to retain its rural ‘Hotshots’

Filling jobs of rural wildlife firefighters can be difficult due to the cost of living according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fires and State Lands.

3 days ago

A car is filled at a gas pump in Sandy on Tuesday, March 19, 2024....

Adam Small

Experts predict record number of drivers, lower Memorial Day gas prices

Experts have predicted that 43.8 million people will travel this weekend. They could experience lower gas prices.

3 days ago

People skate at Millcreek Common in Millcreek on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. The New Americans Internatio...

Eric Cabrera

New Americans International Market offers space for newly settled Americans to share culture and connect

The New Americans International Market at Millcreek Common is helping new refugees and immigrants connect with the community.

7 days ago

A customer checks prices while shopping at a grocery store in Wheeling, Ill., Friday, Jan. 19, 2024...

Curt Gresseth

Inflation eases but grocery store prices in Utah still stinging

Inflation eases slightly in April, but in Utah, consumers are still feeling the pinch of grocery-store prices.

8 days ago

FILE - A street sign is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange June 14, 2022. The U.S. stock ...

Simone Seikaly

LISTEN: Utah analyst on stock market highs

Stock market investors are reportedly energized by a report showing inflation is cooling somewhat across the U.S.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Salt Lake board takes ‘first step’ toward approving library workers’ union efforts