Has Emanuel Met His Match In Chicago Librarians?

CHICAGO (CBS) — They might be the most unlikely of groups to say “No” to the mayor and get away with it: Chicago’s librarians.

Mayor Emanuel has backed off on a cost-cutting move to close libraries on Mondays, despite the library union’s refusal to make concessions.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine explains.

They’re a feisty bunch, these librarians, who held protests Monday to demand the Emanuel administration reinstate full hours on Mondays.

Monday morning, Veronica Bonilla found the doors to her neighborhood library locked. She left, disappointed.

“I used to bring the kids to the story time in the morning and they like it, so it’s going to be sad,” she said.

Earlier this month, the mayor ordered the libraries closed on Mondays, after the union refused to agree to work two half-days instead of one full day.

Now, he’s relented, finding the money to do exactly what they want: rehiring nearly half the 176 employees who had been laid off.

Still not enough, they say.

“He has taken those steps. He seems to be realizing the importance of the libraries to the neighborhoods, and we’d like him to work with us to come the rest of the way,” says Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31.

The mayor says he will not restore all the cuts in library hours and jobs.

“They tried to make the libraries a bargaining chip for undoing the responsibility we had to bringing reforms to the rest of the budget,” Emanuel said. “And I’m not going to undo all the savings we achieved there and somehow try to hold the libraries hostage.”

But so far, the librarians have succeeded in restoring most of the proposed cuts, probably because of the negative perceptions held by moms who bring toddlers to story time, students who use libraries after school and the unemployed who need computers to look for work.

More from Jay Levine
  • tom Sharp

    I repeat myself from an earlier blog on the same subject: All this guy did is take away something the public and the library workers already had, then he gave it back to us and acted like he was a hero!? Now he and his posse are stunned that no one has bought into giving him credit for it!

    Rahm, do you remember this one from HONEST Abe: “You can fool some of the people some of the time…”

  • Andrew Petersen

    Wait…bringing in Non-Union Part Time employees to run the Libraries on Mondays is a solution?

    That’s union busting and a violation of the CBA the city has with the Unions.

    • Jim

      Union busting is what this state needs to get our fiscal house in order!

  • dan

    Oh no! The librarians need the union to protect them from horrendous work conditions and slave like work rules!!

    Are the clerks and secretaries that bloat all the city departments covered by a union too?

    Crossing guards and traffic aides?

    Who the he!! ever allowed librarians to be in a union in the 1st place? They should privatize the libraries and it would probably improve service and cut the cost 50%. Wasn’t it funny how fast the city crews could ramp up and collect the recyclables when they began competing with Waste Management for their jobs!

    We all know what the problem is-and it ain’t a bunch of underpaid and overworked book shufflers…..

    Taxpayer revolt is beginning….like the Arab Spring! We aint gonna pay all you lazy overpaid hacks for giving us a 4 hours of work a day for 8 hours pay no more!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mshea

    Go talk to a librarian. An honest one…pick someone you like and trust and ASK them how they get away with 4 hours of work in an 8 hour day. Or, has it been a while since you’ve been in a library?

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    […] Earlier this week, the mayor backed off on the move to close the libraries on Mondays, despite the l… But mayor said he would not restore all the cuts in library hours and jobs. Share this No comments // […]

  • http://laurainthelibrary.wordpress.com laurainthelibrary

    Reblogged this on Laura in the Library.

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    […] But a couple of weeks later, the mayor backed off on the move to close the libraries on Mondays, des… […]

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