Save Winthrop Library!

Save Winthrop Library!

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Jennifer Doe
Jennifer Doe signed this petition

As of July 1st, the Winthrop Library will be laying off all of it staff.  We are asking for everyone to come together to save the library and the vital services it provides to the community. We are asking everyone to sign on to this petition.

To the Town Council of Winthrop,
The Town Manager, Austin Faison has decided to eliminate 8 of the 10 staff from the library and offer services digitally only.  This hurts people in our community in a time when we need books and access to the materials of the library.  Our seniors citizens, children, and fellow residents need books and other materials to help us get through the pandemic. Providing online-only services assumes all our residents have the ability and knowledge to access the appropriate technology necessary to use these services.  Our residents that do not have this are often elderly and poor.  We the undersigned demand that the Library start allowing patrons to place holds on books, DVDs, and other materials and pick them up as libraries in surrounding communities have started doing.  The library provides a vital link to materials, and Winthrop residents should not be left out.

We, the undersigned town residents, demand that the town bring back the appropriate staff to do pick ups and holds and generate a plan that is safe for the community and staff. 

 

Timeline of Winthrop Library Lay-offs.

union members who were on paid furlough, were not allowed into the library nor given any opportunity to work from home. 

On June 11, 2020, the union sent a letter to the Town Manager requesting a meeting to discuss any library reopening.  The Town Manager did not respond to the letter.
 
On June 16, 2020, the union sent an email to the Town manager and Library Director asking to have a discussion about reopening the library.  We proposed several dates. Management did not respond to that email.  The Winthrop Town Council approved the FY21 budget fully funding the library.
 
On June 22, 2020, the union sent a follow up email to the original email requesting a meeting.  Management finally responded and set a date.  Later that day, the Town Manager called the union chair, Rich Allen and let him know that the town intended to lay off all the Library workers.  The town manager asked the Chair to waive the requirement to give 30 days’ notice of lay-off. The Chair said the union will have to get to him on these issues.  

On June 23, 2020, the union met with the town.  The town wanted to do layoffs starting July 1 causing 4 full-time members to lose their town health insurance and indicated if we did not agree to waive the 30-day timeline, they would just do it anyways.  The union proposed instead of layoffs, that the town furlough the workers for 1 month and assess whether a layoff is necessary at the end of July.  This would give the Director time to figure out what would be necessary to allow town residents to pick up and drop off materials and to allow the library to do what other cities and towns are doing.  Management said they would respond the following day.
On June 24, 2020, Management countered the union with a 30-day unpaid furlough and layoffs effective August 1st, without an additional assessment of the necessity of lay-offs.  Management could not say how these cuts would help the budget and admitted that they did not know how the budget would be affected and did not want to wait to find out. Management did not want to discuss how to continue to serve the community.  
On June 25, 2020, the Town Manager mentioned at the Library Trustee meeting that library funds were reallocated for "other purposes" and that the furloughs/layoffs were only "temporary".
On June 29, 2020, the Town and the union signed the proposed agreement.
 
On June 29, 2020, the union posted a Saving Winthrop Library petition. 
 
On July 1, 20020, the unpaid furloughs started.
 
On July 2, 2020, NOBLE work email accounts were disabled, and all login credentials revoked.
 
On July 7, 2020 the union presented a copy of the Saving Winthrop Library petition to the Winthrop Town Council and explained what’s been happening at the library the last 4 months.  The Town Manager reiterated that the furloughs/layoffs were only “temporary” until the town could install plexiglass in the library and that there were two Library Reopening Plans were on the Library Trustee web page.  The plans were posted on July 1, 2020 and lack any dates or metrics as to when the plan would be implemented.  The union sent a request for information on the safety measures being planned that evening.
 
July 9t, 2020, The union sent a request to bargain the reopening that the Town Manager had indicated was imminent in the prior Town Council meeting.
 
On July 13, 2020, the Town Manager sent the union a letter saying that any discussions concerning implementing any curbside or other services are premature as well as recalling furloughed workers.  Also, the town manager is quoted as saying pick up and holds are available in an interview with the Winthrop Transcript.
 
On July 14, 2020, the union responded with a letter that stated that the town manager had mentioned several times about reopening timelines.  The union wanted to arrange a meeting to present a plan for “enhanced” curbside service but the town to this date has not responded to the letter.

Facts on the Towns Cuts

·  The Winthrop Library could risk receiving grants and aid due to the layoffs.

·  The Winthrop Library could risk being decertified from the library state aid program if the library budget was disproportionately cut than other town department budgets.  Decertification could mean the library would not be eligible for inter-library loans.  The Winthrop Library would have to ask for a waiver.

·  The Winthrop Library will be losing close to 100 years of employee experience, including one employee who has been at the Library almost 50 years and another employee close to 30 years.

·  Switching to online-only services will disproportionately affect the elderly and those that cannot afford internet access or the technology to use it.

·  Aside from notices from the public schools about low-cost internet, the town has not taken steps to make internet access more widely available to the general public to address this imbalance.

·  The town cuts at the Library and Senior Center target the senior community.

·  The town does not publish notices and information on Trustee Meetings except in online sources, limiting the audience to only those who can look for them online.

·  Other cities and towns are not taking such drastic actions, but instead are working to creatively find ways to provide services to their community, especially their seniors.