January 30, 2013 at 1:59 PM
LIVINGSTON, NJ - The ongoing problems between the town of Livingston and library employees remains unresolved and attempts at mediation have not helped break the stalemate.
Several librarians from the Livingston Library protested outside a town hall meeting on Jan. 14, saying they have not had a contract or a pay increase since 2010.
Library employee John Sitnik told TheAlternativePress.com that everyone at the library is concerned about the issue.
“We’re concerned for the library,” Sitnik said. “People who work here are not here for riches or glory, but to serve and enrich the community. We believe in public libraries.”
He added that the negotiation has seemed to come to a dead end, even with the mediator involved.
“This revolving issue is wasting residents' time and tax dollars,” Sitnik said. “We want to sit down and negotiate in good faith and reach a settlement."
Library Specialist Jan Aji explained that the librarians didn’t ask for “enormous amounts of money,” just to stay on the playing field.
“Our paychecks have gone down, not even stayed even,” Aji said. “This is our third time dealing with contract negotiations since 2004 and each time it has been difficult.”
Aji said that protests have helped in the past to bring recognition to the problem, which is why they decided to protest earlier this month. She added that the librarians also decided to petition and within one Saturday, they collected 800 signatures from concerned residents.
Sitnik explained that even though the library was a highly rated service in town in the Vision 20/20 residential survey, Town Administrator Michele Meade “still” rejected the fact finder’s offer.
However, Mayor Rudy Fernandez told TheAlternativePress.com that the town council is committed to bargaining
in “good faith.”
“We are looking forward to reaching an agreement that’s fair to library workers and Livingston taxpayers,” Fernandez said. "We’ve been bargaining for a while and that process will continue.”
Fernandez added that the library is an important asset to the community, which is why the town plans to continue negotiations.
“I think the library is heavily used and is important to the community and students, which is why we’ve always been committed to its success,” Fernandez said.