Ferguson Library Workers Seek Fair Resolution of Contract

Stamford, CT, April 8, 2019 – The statewide union representing 44 employees at the Ferguson Library in Stamford is urging the Library Director and Board of Trustees to arrive at a fair and reasonable settlement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The previous collective bargaining agreement between Ferguson Library and Local 1303-317 of Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) expired June 30, 2018. Upon the advice of retained counsel, the employer has declared contract negotiations to be at an impasse (after cancelling negotiation sessions in January, February and March). The two sides will now proceed to contract mediation through the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration (SBMA). The first contract mediation session is scheduled for April 10 at Ferguson Library. 

“Ferguson Library and its dedicated employees are central to the life of the Stamford community,” Jody Barr, Council 4’s executive director, said. “I can’t think of a better time than National Library Week for Ferguson management to do the right thing and settle this contract in a fair and reasonable fashion.”

Barr’s reference is to National Library Week, sponsored annually by the American Library Association. This year’s nationwide celebration of libraries is April 7-13, 2019, with April 9 standing out as the ALA’s National Library Workers Day.

One of the sticking points in negotiations has been the Library’s push to dramatically reduce retirement benefits for current employees and eliminate the defined benefit plan altogether for future hires. Current proposals would slash retirement benefits by nearly 30%, costing library workers anywhere from $5,000-$11,000 annually in retirement earnings. The Library is also seeking to reduce paid time off and increase health insurance premium cost sharing.

“We love our library and we serve the public with tremendous pride,” Library Assistant and Local 1303-317 President Carolyn Aucella said. “Our union has enjoyed a positive and collaborative relationship with our employer over the years. We are simply asking to be treated fairly.”

Digital Librarian and Local 1303-317 Vice President Rebecca Ferrer added, “We have had amiable and productive negotiations for past contracts, until the Library decided to hire outside counsel. This is a frustrating situation, but it’s fixable. We are as committed as ever to our patrons.”

Council 4’s 30,000-strong union membership include hundreds of library professionals in diverse communities across the state, including Stamford, Westport, Bethel, New Haven and Cheshire.