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Clarification appended.

Brown will restructure the University Library and the Department of Facilities Management July 1, Director of Labor and Employee Relations Joe Sarno '91 wrote to the two departments' unions on March 25 and March 29, respectively.

More than a dozen workers will be laid off from the library — the library union's first-ever layoffs, according to Karen McAninch, the United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island business agent who represents both unions. While the much larger facilities department will only suffer one layoff — a non-union engineer, according to Vice President for Facilities Management Stephen Maiorisi — McAninch said she was concerned with next year's increase in subcontracting, which will eliminate the need to fill some vacancies in the department.

The restructuring of the two departments is expected to save $3 million next year, according to Sarno's letters.

University officials announced in March that it would lay off 60 staff members in June, while offering them severance packages, health coverage and career counseling, among other services.

The University plans to subcontract custodial services for six off-campus locations, including 70 Ship St., the future site of the Alpert Medical School in the Jewelry District.
"It's our work, and there's no justification for taking our work away," McAninch said.
She said she was skeptical about whether subcontracting the labor would really save money in the end.

"It begs the question of whether it could be an anti-union thing in that respect," she said.
But Maiorisi said requiring the limited number of custodial supervisors to go so far off campus is a strain on resources, making subcontracting more economical in remote locations.

"This will change in future years as we get more concentrated in the Jewelry District and other areas," Maiorisi said. Custodians currently working in the areas to be subcontracted will be moved back on campus when the changes take effect July 1.

Maiorisi said the University is contractually allowed to subcontract any work as long as it is not done so arbitrarily and the union is notified. Both Maiorisi and McAninch said they plan to meet soon to discuss the subcontracting.

"We go into any discussions with the union with an open mind," Maiorisi said. "If they have a better solution, I'd be happy to listen to it."

The other letter from Sarno to McAninch outlines an increased reliance on subcontracting for library guards.

Though one part-time building attendant has accepted voluntary retirement, one full-time and three more part-time attendants will be laid off.

Instead, "Sterling guards will be utilized at the Sciences Library during all hours of operation, and at the Rockefeller Library after 10 p.m. to enhance security at critical times," the letter says, noting that "additional measures will be taken to increase the security of the building."

Chief of Police Mark Porter wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that there has been no significant increase recently in major crimes in the libraries.

Trish Dumin, a senior library specialist working in the Rock as a computing consultant, has worked at the University Library since 1978, with an eight-year gap starting in 1990 to serve as the union's full-time treasurer. She said she has witnessed many incidents in which having in-house door guards has been important for handling difficult situations and for helping people on a day-to-day basis, as "ambassadors" to library guests.

The letter also suggests moving Dumin's position and that of another computing consultant out of the University Libraries and into Computing and Information Services.

These employees assist staff and sometimes students with computing issues such as installations and training, Dumin said.

Vice President for Computing and Information Services Michael Pickett said the details of the proposal have not yet been worked out, but the goals are to make computing consultants from various administrative departments better at their jobs by centralizing them in CIS to provide training, certification, and other support.

But Dumin and her coworker stand to lose their union affiliation if they are transferred out of the libraries department, even though much of their job description could remain the same.

McAninch called this a "potential implication that there is an anti-union decision."

Dumin would have the opportunity to move into another union position through a process called "bumping" if the decision were made to move her position.

Vice President for Human Resources Karen Davis said there is "absolutely nothing in the organizational review that was meant to diminish the bargaining power of the unions."

But McAninch said that come July 1, when the position eliminations take effect, the libraries union will have only two-thirds of the positions it had 10 years ago.

Andy Moul, a library associate specialist at the John Hay Library whose position is being eliminated, said he was upset with the way the layoffs were carried out. He said he found out about his position's elimination from an e-mail sent out to library employees listing the positions to be eliminated, but not mentioning names.

"Nobody from the administration bothered to, you know, tell us," he said. "Are they really concerned with what we provide, or are they just trying to fill a quota?"

McAninch agreed that the reorganization of the libraries was not carried out in a respectful way.

"If they're restructuring things in the library, there are ways to do it while being respectful to people's experience and contributions," she said

An earlier version of this article omitted pertinent information about the fate of the 14 union library workers who will lose their jobs in July. Some may be able to take other jobs within the library union vacated by workers who will retire then.


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