An open letter of solidarity with Salt Lake City Public Library Workers United
April 22nd, 2023
To the Salt Lake City Public Library Board of Directors, and to library patrons,
The Democratic Socialists of Salt Lake (DSSL) is first and foremost a socialist organization formed in the spirit and practice of working class solidarity and labor organizing. Workers’ unions and collective bargaining are foundational pillars that hold working class power stable. Along with these pillars, public libraries are also necessary for the survival of democracy and working class people. Because of this, the DSSL is writing this letter on behalf of the 400+ members of the chapter to show public and proud support of the Salt Lake City Public Library workers’ efforts to unionize with Local 1004 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as SLCPL Workers United.
Our chapter is an active and proud patron of the SLC Public Library (SLCPL). Since August, we have held each of our monthly hybrid general meetings at the main branch (including our next one on 4/24), we held our “Know Your Rights” tenant organizing trainings at multiple branches across the city over the past year, and our members have participated in events other community organizations have hosted at the library. Our chapter has several members who work with the SLCPL, and we have enjoyed utilizing the non-book materials, such as the button and sticker maker, that are accessible through the SLCPL.
Beyond the scope of our chapter, the SLCPL does vital work that this city would not be able to function without. The free Seed Library program is an imaginative success in the fight against food deserts and for sustainability across the valley. Hundreds of community members enjoy the book clubs, public forums, educational programs, youth programs, guest speakers, and author meet-and-greets the library puts on every year. But most importantly, the SLCPL is one of the last places in the city that every Salt Laker can go to and be welcomed, regardless of race, gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, immigration status, language, or age. The SLCPL is one of the only places in the state that is wholly democratic and equitable to all people. And it does all of this free of charge to everyone.
But it’s not “the entity” of the SLCPL who executes these wonders; the SLCPL would vanish in an instant without the intelligent, hardworking librarians, custodians, educators, and other workers who pour their heart and soul into their work and this city everyday. It is the workers that provide all the valuable resources there. It is them that create and execute all the innovative and world-class services and events the library puts on. These workers are positive examples to all people in our community; they embody the ideals the DSSL, and many Americans, hold very seriously: free speech, appreciation of the arts and humanities, community outreach, education, and social and economical justice. The SLCPL workers are the keepers of democracy and prophets of a better, more equitable and just, day.
The SLCPL is the embodiment of collaboration, so it is for these reasons and more that we demand that the SLCPL Board of Directors voluntarily recognize SLCPL Workers United upon demonstration of majority support and bargain in good faith with the representatives elected by the workers. We also demand that the Board passes resolution that solidify these collective bargaining rights and prevent any union busting any future board may consider. We also demand that the Board addresses the workers’ concerns regarding wages, benefits, equality, and their workplace democratic processes, as they know their own work situation better than anyone. The SLCPL workers are currently the only group of public employees in Salt Lake City who are not covered under any bargaining agreement, and this directly contradicts the main ideals this very institution stand.
The DSSL asks the Board to submit to workers’ demands, and will stand by the SLCPL workers’ through every success and struggle they endure; up to and including joining them on the picket line. Solidarity with the library workers now! And solidarity with them forever!
On behalf of our members,
The Democratic Socialists of Salt Lake Coordinating Committee