Apparently, the New York City library workers union reps are working hard to maintain comfortable working conditions for the librarians. Back in the good ol’ days of union organizing, this meant that exit doors couldn’t be locked, lest hundreds of people die in a fire.  These days, however, the stakes are a bit…lower.

Under a little-known contract provision titled “Extreme Temperature Procedures,” unionized workers at branches of the New York Public Library can accrue compensatory time when the temperature inside dips below 68 degrees for a couple of hours. Similar clauses exist for libraries across the city.

I’m sorry….would you repeat that?  68 degrees???

Angela Montefinise, a spokeswoman for the New York Public Library, said the temperature clause had been around for decades. “The goal of this clause, which has been amended over the years, is to ensure safe working conditions for our staff but also to continue to provide an essential service to our public,” she said.

But such a temperature provision does seem rare, if not unique. City firefighters were excused from performing inspections during “inclement weather,” which included when the wind-chill factor dropped to 20 degrees and below. But the city won elimination of that restriction in 1988.

OK. If firefighters have to do inspections even when it’s below freezing, surely a librarian can throw on a cardigan and muddle through at 67 degrees.  Right?

At the Soundview branch, the wall thermometer near the circulation desk read 77 degrees. Wanda Luzon, a 25-year-old librarian there, said that in nine years with the library system, she had only once received compensation time related to temperature issues, when the air-conditioner was broken for several days.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be whining when the indoor temp was 77, not 67!

This seems completely ridiculous to me.  Having worked at a rural public library where the furnace was a bit temperamental,  I can’t imagine what the reaction would have been had we marched over to the city to complain about the library being a bit chilly.

We’re all facing budget issues. We’re looking to see how we can save money, keep our jobs, and keep our libraries open for our communities.  Surely eliminating this sort of nonsense from a union contract would be a good place to start.


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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

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