"While I can’t speak to what the previous director knew, I was never approached with any concerns of employees. I attend every Board (of Trustees) meeting and I do not recall any concerns being formally voiced to the board as well. In fact, a good portion of our employees were surprised to hear that there were concerns at all," said Interim Director Kathy Szott.
Szott, the business manager, was appointed interim director after Jim Deiters resigned as director soon after the library reopened in July, reportedly over a difference of opinions with the board.
Union cards are being sent to employees, and Mark Renard, a senior organizer with AFSCME Council 31, said that if a majority of them are sent back signed, the process will move forward.
"The reopening was certainly not rushed. In fact, many libraries in the area opened well before Oak Lawn opened. Our board even delayed our opening an additional week from the date the previous director planned to open to make sure all PPE supplies were in place before we opened," said Szott. She declined to comment on reported concerns regarding staffing numbers "as I have no idea what that means,"
The letter urged the library board to “respect our decision and work collaboratively with us at the bargaining table. We call on them to respect our legally protected right to organize a union and not use taxpayer funds on anti-union communications or meetings."
Szott said unionization would not affect library management.
"Whether, or not, our employees are unionized, the library will strive to continue providing the best possible services to the patrons of Oak Lawn in the most cost-effective manner," she said.