Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

John Koutsos

Attempts by PL Fail to Organize Library Workers

First Published: Columbia Daily Spectator, Volume CXI, Number 96, 17 April 1967.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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An attempt by the Columbia Progressive Labor Club to unionize University library employees has failed.

Progressive Labor, after several months of effort, recently abandoned attempts to bring the workers into AFL-CIO district 65.

A general lack of interest among the workers, according to several employees caused the failure.

The apparent apathy was attributed by the employees to the large number of part-time and student workers, who have few grievances because they can choose the few hours a week which they work. Even among full-time employees, however, organizers had difficulty arousing interest several workers pointed out. 

Tony Papert ’68 of Progressive Labor said that another reason for the failure was the workers’ fears of losing their jobs. Papert alleged that some library “supervisors” warned employees against trying to form a union.

The University, because it is a non-profit institution, would not be obliged to recognize a library workers’ union.

This prerogative was tested and upheld in the State Supreme Court in 1952, when the Food Services workers attempted to unionize.

Papert added that strife within Progressive Labor and inexperience in organizing workers also hurt the effort.

He said that a main grievance was that many full-time employees have only part-time status. Therefore, according to workers, some men put in 37.5 hours a week without paid vacations or other benefits of fulltime employees. Papert said also that the rate of pay is generally low.