SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Thirteen library workers at the John C. Hart Memorial Library have filed a grievance against the town of Yorktown regarding their placement on the town’s pay scale.
Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) workers in the town of Yorktown are separated into two classes: A and A-1. A library worker who spoke to Yorktown News on the condition of anonymity said the Class A positions include mostly “blue-collar” workers (cleaners, cooks, laborers, maintenance workers and mechanics), while Class A-1 positions are considered “white-collar” (clerks, typists, stenographers, building and environmental inspectors, and the code enforcement officer). To her, it’s clear where the library workers should be grouped.
“We don’t look down on the blue-collar workers,” the library worker said. “We just want to be grouped with our counterparts.”
The library worker said they have been unsuccessfully lobbying their union to negotiate a jump to the higher pay scale for years and can only think of one reason as to why the town has “dug its heels in” so vociferously against it.
“Within our town, we are being discriminated against,” the library worker said.
There are 14 library positions under Class A; one is currently vacant. The entirely female library staff features four “librarian II” positions (all have master’s degrees); three “librarian I” positions (all have master’s degrees); three senior clerks (all have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees); two clerks (all have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees); and one staff assistant (has an associate’s degree). The library’s only male worker, a caretaker, is also on the Class A list.
The previous CSEA contract expired in 2015 and the town and union are currently negotiating a new one. The change in classification could come with a pay raise, but the library worker said that is not why she and her female co-workers are fighting so hard.
“The town will say we’re looking for a raise,” she said. “No, we’re just looking for equality.”
Supervisor Michael Grace told Yorktown News that this is a matter for collective bargaining and could not comment about specifics.
“The issue simply is their grievance, so to speak, really has to be brought to the negotiation table with their union,” he said. “They don’t understand. They’re part of a collective bargaining unit.”
He also dismissed the allegation of gender discrimination.
“It’s got nothing to do with it,” he said.
The library workers have become skeptical that their union is even raising the issue during negotiations. Last year, the library workers filed a grievance through their union against the town. An arbitrator was set to hear the case, but the necessary paperwork had not been submitted on time by their union, the library workers claim. The hearing was dismissed on a technicality and the arbitrator heard no arguments.
The library workers have re-filed their grievance, but they believe their union neither believes they can win nor wants them to.
Keith Kuttruf, Yorktown CSEA representative, declined comment and referred Yorktown News to Fred Smit, a CSEA labor relations specialist assigned to Yorktown. Smit said the improper filing was his mistake, though he didn’t think it was an “offendable grievance” and the hearing should have been heard.
“We withdrew the last arbitration and we said we would file again and we have,” Smit said.
Smit said the grievance is only about the library workers’ placement and there is no guarantee an A-1 classification would come with a raise. He called the contract “vague.”
“We filed a grievance on behalf of the library to put them to the A-1 salary schedule, which is more a white-collar salary schedule than a blue-collar salary schedule,” Smit said. “That’s really the gist of the grievance.”
If the higher classification did not come with a raise, the library worker said, that would be even “further discrimination.”
“It’s not just about being lumped in with labor,” she said. “It’s about equal pay.”
Smit dismissed the notion that CSEA is not acting on behalf of the library workers and, like Grace, said gender has not played a role in contract negotiations. He said unions are “generally blind to gender.”
“The town has 140 to 150 people there and we’ve got a lot of clericals and a lot of blue-collar people and no one’s treated any differently based on gender,” Smit said. “We’re blind to all of those things. You do the job and you get paid based on the salary schedule.”
The library worker says a pay raise could come at no additional cost to the town. Instead of filling the currently vacant 14th library position, that money could be spread out to other employees, the library worker said.
Smit said a date has not yet been set for the next arbitration hearing.
“It is now in the hands of the town’s attorney and our attorney,” he said.
Brian Marschhauser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.