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Miami librarians file to be recognized as a member of the FAM bargaining unit

Miami University librarians will file for recognition as a collective bargaining unit after they were excluded from FAM's proposed collective bargaining unit.
Miami University librarians will file for recognition as a collective bargaining unit after they were excluded from FAM's proposed collective bargaining unit.

On Friday, March 17, the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM) announced that Miami University librarians have officially filed for recognition as a collective bargaining unit.

This move comes just over a week after a decision made by the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) excluded librarians from FAM’s proposed collective bargaining unit, as explained in FAM’s press release.

“[T]he State Employment Relations Board (SERB) decision excluded the librarians from the unit, in part as they were labeled by the university as staff and not as faculty as they are at most Ohio public universities,” the release read. “However, the ruling did not preclude them from filing to form their own unit — and today, they did.”

Ginny Boehme, a science librarian, said the librarians still hope to advocate for their interests in the developing wave of faculty and staff unionization efforts.

“We support the broader collective effort that FAM is organizing,” Boehme said. “We want to be able to have a greater voice in not just the governance of our university but also in our own terms of employment.”

In a statement sent to The Miami Student, Alecia Lipton, associate director of media relations, said the university is aware of FAM’s request to be recognized as representative of full-time librarians and will respond within their required 21-day timeframe.

“Our Librarians play a critical part in furthering our University mission and delivering academic excellence to our students. While the Miami University administration does not believe unionization is the best path forward, we respect the right of our Librarians to unionize,” Lipton wrote. “This decision rests solely in their hands. The University will continue to support and work openly with Librarians on all campuses and ensure that they are informed of next steps on this and all University matters.”

Boehme said the librarians are often overlooked but are also affected by university-wide decisions like faculty and staff.

“There’s been a lot of top-down decision-making that has affected all of us, particularly since COVID,” Boehme said. “It hasn’t gotten a lot of faculty feedback along the way, and there’s been some really, really awful things that have been happening.”

Student library worker Sophia Meyers was unaware that the librarians were being excluded from the union but said she supports their efforts to unionize.

Meyers said she doesn’t, however, consider the librarians to be included in Miami faculty and was unaware that they were also trying to unionize with FAM.

“I feel like with faculty I just automatically assume [to be] teacher and professor,” Meyers said. “I didn't know that they were unionizing, and I work in the library.”

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Boehme said SERB’s decision is not the first time the librarians have been neglected and hopes for something to change.

“We're such a small group that it's kind of easy to overlook us, and we're misunderstood and our work is very much analogous to faculty work, but not a lot of people know and understand that,” Boehme said. “We just want to be recognized.”

Nick Kneer, strategic communications coordinator for Miami’s libraries, declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Managing Editor Luke Macy