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Miami’s librarian union passes with unanimous vote

Librarians at Miami University voted unanimously to unionize this month.
Librarians at Miami University voted unanimously to unionize this month.

The vote for unionization of Miami University’s librarians unanimously passed and will be recognized by the State Employment Relations Board (SERB).

A total of 28 ballots were received by SERB, making up 90% of eligible voters. All but three eligible voters sent in ballots. The remaining ballots were returned to SERB without being filled out and were therefore voided.

Ginny Boehme, a science librarian at Miami, went to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to watch the SERB officials count the ballots.

“It feels amazing,” Boehme said. “I feel like the hard work that we have put in over the last two years has paid off. I know we have a really long and probably difficult road to actually get and negotiate our first contract with Miami, but I am so excited to do the work.”

The vote now enters a 10-day objection period where it can be challenged by the librarians or the university. The vote will not be certified until it is approved by SERB at its July 6 meeting. After it is approved, the union will begin bargaining. 

In an email to The Miami Student, Alecia Lipton, the associate director of media relations at Miami, said the university expects the results to be certified and will prioritize support for the librarians throughout the negotiation process. 

“We can't predict how negotiations will play out or how long it will take to establish an initial contract, but the University and our administration remain committed to supporting our Librarians and their work,” Lipton wrote. “University administration has always recognized our faculty and staff's rights to organize and respects the thoughtful consideration our Librarians have exercised throughout this process, along with the election results.”

Boehme said some of her priorities heading into negotiations will be transparency and guidance on requirements for promotion and continuing contracts, equitable workload, and recognition of the work that librarians do.

“We have … faculty-like responsibilities, and very often we seem to be treated by the administration as faculty,” Boehme said. “But we don’t have the same rights, we don’t have the same pay and we don’t have the same protections.”

Boehme said a bargaining survey has already been sent out to the librarians to gather interest on issues they want to bring to negotiations. She said many of the questions are similar to the bargaining survey sent to faculty after the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM) unionized in May

The librarians filed for recognition as a collective bargaining unit after the group was excluded from the proposed FAM unit by SERB in April. Now, Boehme said the two groups plan to work together through negotiations.

“Basically, a lot of our issues and a lot of our concerns are exactly the same,” Boehme said. “We anticipate that a lot of the articles that we will end up trying to negotiate will be the same, so to me, it makes a lot of sense to go ahead and bargain them together.”

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FAM’s proposed faculty union passed by a vote of 65% in May, and the vote was approved by SERB at its June 8 meeting.