Workers at the Orange County Library are trying to organize a union. And some of them plan to tell the library's governing board this Thursday to stop harassing organizers and follow labor law. "We want to avoid engaging in mudslinging," says librarian Ralph Illick, who is one of a handful of workers who began the organizing drive last summer with help from Local 362 of the Service Employees International Union. "But we need to call them on some things. They need to get some information right." One complaint? Library managers are telling workers that the union can charge nonmembers dues, says Illick.
Library workers say they're organizing over basic dignity. But safety issues and a wage freeze crop up in discussions. Many say that experienced librarians have to leave Orange County in order to advance their careers. Turnover is far above the industry average. "We were able to organize very quickly," says Illick. "In two weeks we got the signatures of 60 percent of the workers. That's unprecedented."