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Daniel Boone Regional Library responds to workers' attempt to unionize

Daniel Boone Regional Library criticized employees and representatives of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees for making “inaccurate and untrue” statements about the library’s workplace culture.

A group of workers announced its formal intent to unionize and form Daniel Boone Regional Library Workers United on Friday. Its main concerns, as stated in a letter of intent, were high turnover and “unsafe” working conditions.

In an email response, DBRL leadership said the team “acknowledges that its workers have the right to engage in organizing activities.” However, it took issue with several of the claims brought forth by organizers.

DBRL leadership pointed to past and current COVID-19 safety measures, including masking and social distance being encouraged as well as extending paid sick leave for COVID-19 beyond the federally required coverage period.

And in response to complaints of high turnover, DBRL responded by reminding workers of its retirement benefits and personal time off policy. The group also noted that its turnover rate is “below or close” to the national average, according to DBRL’s records.

“We recognize the importance and value in supporting our staff in Boone and in Callaway Counties,” said Margaret Conroy, executive director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library. “The staff, like the general public, have differing opinions on a number of topics, like how to handle COVID. We know that not all of our management decisions will please everyone, but we strive to work as a team.”

Union members said they expected this response from DBRL and that they are confident they can win union election if the library will not voluntarily recognize their group.

“We are our union. Our motivations for organizing are directly inspired by our lived experiences,” said librarian Kat Stone Underwood. “As staff, we know what resources and support we need to take care of each other and help our library and community thrive.”

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.