It has been eight weeks since I first contacted a trusted member of the library board of trustees to see if something could be done about the toxic atmosphere at the library. From the beginning, I stressed the urgency of the situation and the need to offer a safe method for members of the staff and former staff to share their concerns. Almost two months later, there is little sign of any action. While I realize the board is made up of dedicated volunteers who have other pressing responsibilities, each day of delay further erodes trust.
The situation surrounding the revision of the staff manual is a good example of management behavior that has eroded trust:
- Although it has been more than two years since the administration determined the need for a complete revision of the staff manual, they now assert there were only a few minor, quickly executed changes. This statement is incorrect. Some of the MAJOR revisions include an elimination of the grievance process, a change in the probationary period from 6 to 12 months, and an undefined criteria of "excellence" for the performance of all staff. One attorney even suggested the new manual now makes the library an "at will" employer which is a substantial change from the former "good cause" policy for dismissal.
- There was no plan for staff input into the manual revision process until after a meeting between the board of trustees and the administration. A staff committee, chaired by the HR Director (a person many staff distrust), has now been established and the administration admits the manual needs "fine tuning" which will take place AFTER the staff training. One has to wonder if there will then be a need for more staff training.
- Only after the union threatened to file a grievance, did management set up a labor/management meeting regarding the changes in the staff manual that were not in compliance with the union contract. At that meeting the union posed a lot of probing questions, but management had few answers. Participants are not convinced there will be any change.
Despite the fact that these examples display a certain lack of competency on the part of the administration, it is the denial of a staff relations problem and the continued harassment of targeted employees that is the biggest concern. All staff members even those with performance issues, are entitled to fair and compassionate employment practices AND those who have spoken up about abuse must be protected from reprisals.
PROTECT THE LIBRARY STAFF and I will happily go back to writing on this blog about matters of little consequence to anyone except a few of my friends and family.