On Monday, December 20th, SEIU 721 staff and stewards met with the LA County Public Library to discuss the impact of the announced staff reduction and the department’s new service model. This is the first time the Union has met with the department on this issue.
The Union is opposed to these reductions, but does recognize that that the department does have the power to make these staffing reductions according to the current contract. The union stressed that we would have liked to have more direct input on this specific plan prior to it being implemented and that many Library staff feel extremely upset and angry at this staff reduction plan.
Staff feel that these DSW workers have been working hard in extremely stressful assignments to keep the county functional during this pandemic and their reward for this sacrifice is to be let go. The department stated that they understood these feelings and that they have done everything possible to delay these staff reductions, but they could not be put off any longer. The department also emphasized that in the current plan, these employees are not going to be immediately released.
Here are some important points coming out of that meeting for those temporary part-employees who have received the notice that their position is being reduced:
- For those who choose Option 1 — Essentially these employees will continue to work as contact tracers as they are now. They will continue to work as contact tracers on their current schedule until the Department of Public Health determines that they are no longer needed. While there is no way to anticipate the COVID need in LA County in 2022, the Library estimates these employees will likely continue to be employed through October of 2022. Once DPH no longer needs contact tracers, these employees will be released by the department.
- For those who choose Option 2 — These employees will no longer be employed by the Library and will instead become full time employees with benefits of Heluna Health, the contracting agency that DPH uses for contact tracing. They will be contracted to work through October 2022, at which point DPH will determine if there is need to continue their employment.
Regardless of whether an employee chooses option 1 or 2, there is currently no departmental plan for them to return to their work in the libraries.
In addition to the temporary part-time employee reduction, the department’s new service model was also discussed. There will be some libraries that will be expanding operating hours and the union expressed concern how this will be accomplished at the same time when there are staff reductions. The department stated that current staff may need to be reassigned to ensure proper coverage. The department also said it is in the process of bringing back about 100 employees who are currently on DSW assignments to augment library coverage. In the long term, the department is in the process of hiring 31 additional full-time staff.
Going forward, the union emphasized that situations like this would be easier for staff to accept if they felt like they had an active part in the planning that went into the decision. Staff currently feels like their concerns were not properly addressed and that the staff being released were taken advantage of.
This is an ongoing situation and the department, and the union will continue to meet and discuss the ongoing impact of these changes.
Please contact your Worksite Organizer or the Member Connection office if you have any questions.