VIDEO: Ferndale Library Workers Unionize
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 8, 2022)
Ferndale, MI – Ferndale Library Workers have united. So far 17 out of 22 eligible workers of the Ferndale Area District Library have come together with the Detroit Newspaper Guild for what they say is the first library workers union in the Metro Detroit area to organize with the Guild.
Mary Grahame Hunter, a Youth Librarian, was a member of the organizing committee that investigated options for unionizing and worked with the guild. She and Library Page (soon-to-be Circulation Specialist) Mumtaz Shabazz joined Oakland County Times for an interview about the decision, along with Detroit Newspaper Guild Administrator Stevie Blanchard.
They said workers looked into unionizing after the Library Board released pay scale information for employees. Other concerns have been over wanting more paid time off, and microaggressions based on race and gender. Additionally the union hopes to negotiate a contract that gives employees more protection from losing their job, unless there is cause for termination. While there are issues to be worked through, they say they love their work and are motivated by keeping the positive aspects, and striving to make things even better.
Ferndale Area District Library administration had just been notified of the union when Oakland County Times reached out, expressing that the process had just begun and it was too early to comment. However, this story will be updated with response by the board and/or administration should there be one.
In this in-depth interview, Shabazz and Hunter share more about their experiences at the library – including the most rewarding and the most challenging. They talk about concerns for all libraries as issues of censorship and de-funding rise across the country. And they talk about the benefits they see in unionizing.
Blanchard also talks about the Guild, and how their mission is to help workers join together and learn more about their rights.
Note: The original version of this story said this was the first library workers union in the area. It has been updated to clarify that it is the first to unionize through the Guild.