MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Gary Newman, union president for the Civil Service Employees Association of the Mount Vernon Public Library, said layoffs would create a further divide between union members and the Library Board of Trustees.
With the City Council adopting its municipal budget on Wednesday, $250,000 of funding was cut from the library, leaving it in a position where layoffs may be imminent. Newman said that the union has been restrained working with the Library Board over the years.
“Many of those problems are the board’s own doing,” Newman said. “I think they should have put us in a better position economically.”
Two directors left the library in 2012, and Newman said that Donna Hurwitz, the most recent library director, who left after three months, was the best the library has had in 20 years. Newman said it is very disturbing and upsetting to CSEA union members that a library director cannot be retained for a long period of time.
“We will continue to give the benefit of the doubt to board members. But if they take action for layoffs, there will be a breach of trust, causing a big change in our relationship,” Newman said.
There have been discussions to transfer the library from municipal status to a school district library, which the board voted to do in 2010. But no action has since been taken towards a public referendum to make the change.
Currently, library trustees are appointed by the school board. But if a public referendum were passed, trustees would have to be elected citywide, and the library budget would need to be approved every year by the public.
“We believe that if the Board of Trustees was doing their job, there would be no need for layoffs,” Newman said.