Daniel Boone Regional Library workers will vote on union over four days in May

Columbia Public Library
Columbia Public Library

Daniel Boone Regional Library workers will vote online May 18-21 on the question of whether they will be part of a union.

If the vote is in favor of a union, which requires a majority, it would become the first library in Missouri with unionized workers.

The system comprises Columbia Public Library, Callaway County Public Library, Holts Summit Public Library and Southern Boone Public Library in Ashland.

There are 166 staff members voting, said Margaret Conroy, director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library.

"That's the bulk of our workforce," Conroy said.

Conroy told the library board earlier this month that there was enough support from workers for an election and it would probably happen in May.

The Missouri State Board of Mediation is conducting the election.

About a week in advance of the election, workers will receive an email with a sample ballot, said Todd Smith, chairman of the State Board of Mediation. That's to inform workers the election is coming up and also to ensure emails aren't blocked by any firewalls or going into spam folders.

Voting is scheduled to begin May 18.

"On the election day itself, workers will receive a link that will take them to the ballot," Smith said. "Each worker has a unique 16-digit code."

Workers will be asked to confirm their votes as part of the procedure, he said.

Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. on May 21. Votes are automatically tabulated. Conroy said she expects the results to be reported Monday morning, May 23.

The election isn't official until 10 days after the results are in, Smith said. That's in case the results are contested.

"In my five years here, that's never happened," Smith said.

The union effort began in February. If workers approve the union, Daniel Boone Regional Library Workers United would be part of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

Concerns workers have stated as their reasons for wanting to unionize include improving pay and hours and paid leave. Benefits, especially health insurance, are another worker concern.

Everyone is aware of the election dates and that the process will be done electronically, said Dakota Hommes, who works in circulation.

"We're very excited," Hommes said. "It's a little surreal that it's really happening and we have a date on the calendar."

Celebrations are being planned, she said.

"I think we're going to win," Hommes said. "We're pretty confident, but we're still working."

She's not as certain of the level of union support at the libraries outside of Columbia, she said.

"We had a difficult time reaching out and having conversations with them," Hommes said. "I know we have supporters there. I hope they stand with us."

She expects a high turnout for the election, she said.

Whatever the result, the library will be ready, Conroy said.

If the vote is successful, the next step would be negotiating a contract with workers.

"The library board and administration want to do the best for our staff," Conroy said. "A well-supported staff does the best job for the public."

Roger McKinney is the education reporter for the Tribune. You can reach him at rmckinney@columbiatribune.com or 573-815-1719. He's on Twitter at @rmckinney9.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Vote on Daniel Boone Regional Library Workers United union scheduled