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  Public Employee Press

PEP May 2006
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Political Action 2006

Battling for public libraries

DC 37 library workers were among an army of 880 ­activists from around the state who lobbied politicians in Albany March 14 to beef up funding for libraries.

The Legislature added $20 million statewide, the first time in eight years that Albany lawmakers raised the allocation for libraries in the governor’s proposed budget.

“It was historic,” said Michael J. Borgess, executive director of the New York Library Association, which spearheaded Library Lobby Day. “Since 1998, we have fought only for restorations, because we couldn’t get the governor to add funds for libraries.”

Borgess credited unions — DC 37, the Teachers and the Civil Service Employees Association, an affiliate of DC 37’s parent union — along with parent and community groups for making the lobbying a success.

DC 37 Political Action Director Wanda Williams described the budget victory as an example of how DC 37 protects services by working with community coalitions.

“When your lobbying leads to a $20 million increase in spending, you certainly see the value of getting involved in politics,” Williams said. “Our members should be proud of their role in persuading the Legislature to bolster the budget.”

Thanks to the lobbying, the New York Public Library system will get an additional $2.7 million, the Queens Borough Public Library will get an extra $2.2 million and the Brooklyn Public Library will be allocated $2 million more.

On Library Day, union activists traveled to Albany on buses provided by DC 37, Local 1930 and the three library systems.

Local 1930 President Lynn Taylor said an important result of the lobbying effort was that the state legislators changed the funding formula. Beginning in the new budget, state funding will be based on 2000 U.S. Census data rather than the smaller population figures from 1990.

“Our action was important because the new funding formula will add about $2 million in permanent state assistance to the library systems,” said Taylor. In a March 23 hearing, she also pressed the City Council to restore cuts proposed by the mayor.

“We loved it,” said Eileen Muller, president of Brooklyn Public Library Guild Local 1482, describing the lobbying ­experience. “We attended a rally, met with legislators and had a real opportunity to get across our feelings about the need for more funding. We’re thrilled the lawmakers listened.”

—Gregory N. Heires



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