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Inadequate compensation.

Staff are not paid competitively; with inflation, many workers have experienced effective pay cuts since 2020!

Insufficient training.

Lack of comprehensive onboarding creates confusion from day one. Additionally, job duties may be added, removed or changed at will, without being negotiated or defined in writing.

Unclear decision-making processes. 

Staff are often left feeling unsure of who has final say on individual projects, as well as assignments given to teams, committees, and working groups.

Lack of worker agency.

Staff are not always empowered to contribute effectively to discussions of structure, strategy, or process because there are no mechanisms to ensure their security.

Not enough full-time exempt (FTE) positions.

There are not enough FTE allocated to do concrete work in core areas; casual and temporary staff, as well as student workers, are relied upon to provide essential services.

Job creep.

There is often an expectation to take on work from vacant positions or managerial responsibilities without additional compensation.

Limited growth for term staff.

Staff who are working on a term basis, or who are seeking job growth within the organization, are not offered opportunities within SCL and are forced to look elsewhere, even when they perform excellent work and possess significant institutional knowledge.


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Clarify job roles and supervisor/supervisee relationships, as well as respect and acknowledge boundaries.

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Review and improve salaries and pay equity, including yearly raises.

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Create a system for workplace grievance resolution.

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Expand democracy in the workplace and worker agency.

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Ensure that workers taking on additional responsibilities due to staffing shortages are compensated accordingly.

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Increase opportunities for promotion; clarify the path to having increased responsibilities within a role recognized.

I strongly believe that a union within Smith College Libraries would greatly improve the working environment and success of those working here.
As an early career librarian, who moved across the country for this job, I want to know that I chose a place that will support me and allow me to grow. Part of that support comes from knowing that those working alongside me are being treated with the respect that they deserve, and that everyone’s voice is valued and listened to.
A union can ensure that the library is an equitable and transparent workplace for all.
As a Smith alum, who has been a staff member at various levels for around 10 years, I have a deep attachment to Smith College. Given that attachment and the values of Smith that resonate with me, it feels very consistent for me to state: I am for supporting my colleagues and this union because I am fundamentally for unions. I reject the notion that by unionizing we must be creating an adversarial relationship between the workers and the institution. What makes our library and college strong is the people who work here. A union is a method of bringing democratization and balancing the power relationship between workers and the institution.
We have a vested interest in each other and in the success of our daily work. Through organizing, we strengthen our bond to each other and to Smith College and demonstrate our commitment to both.
I am excited for the Smith College Libraries Workers Union because it will help us address difficulties that hinder the Libraries’ mission and work on concrete solutions together.
Recruitment and retention are examples of problems that have challenged us over the past few years, and where the ideas and input of all our staff will make a real difference. Our union will give everyone the security we need in order to share our ideas without fear. It will also give us legal standing with the college to bargain for the wages, staffing, training and job clarity we need in order to best support the Smith community that we love.
After more than 30 years at Smith, I have come to love it, as a witness and a contributor to the transformative education it provides, year by year, student by student. I believe a union would help strengthen Smith, and our shared commitment to its mission. A union assures a place at the table for all employees, and asserts the value of each contribution to the whole. It will serve as a powerful tool for recruitment and retention, signaling the reliable accountability and agency employees seek. I see it as a way to promote intergenerational equity: a sustainable human infrastructure.
Our union will benefit us on many levels. The cost of staff turnover in the Libraries has been a singular indication of the need for change. A union will address job disparities and give us a direct voice in some changes that impact our work and lives. A more transparent, cooperative organization can recognize and engage the ideas, strengths, and devotion of all who support the Smith College community. Workers who participate in decision-making and feel secure in their role are better able to focus on important work that matters to students, faculty, and others. We need to work together for a healthy workplace with open communication and fairness, to contribute to a stronger community.
I uprooted my family and my life to come work at the Smith College Libraries because the values of the college resonated so strongly with me. But those values are largely absent from the reality of the library workers, where issues of pay inequity and lack of agency have led to widespread burnout and staff turnover.
I want to work where my colleagues feel respected, heard, and adequately compensated. Unionizing will make that happen.
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