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Contract may save East Side Library

Union approves deal, now headed to library trustees

Spokane’s library workers approved a new contract Tuesday that likely will save enough money to keep the East Side Library open next year.

Library trustee Rick White said he has a “very strong sense” that approval of the labor contract by the library board would save the branch. The planned closure of the East Side Library has been one of the most contentious proposals within the city’s 2011 budget.

Dozens of angry and impassioned library users have testified against the closure – many times in tears – to the library board and City Council. It even spurred a protest from dozens of Sheridan Elementary School students last week in front of City Hall.

“I’m very grateful to our employees for making a sacrifice that makes it possible to keep this branch open,” said White, who is a Spokane County District Court judge.

Joe Cavanaugh, president of Local 270 of the American Federation of the State, County and Municipal Employees, said 96 percent of library workers represented by the union voted in favor of the contract. He declined to discuss details of the contract until it is formally presented to library trustees.

“It was Local 270’s intent along with the library administration’s to reach an agreement” that would help prevent the closure of any branch, Cavanaugh said.

Local 270 represents about 65 library workers.

Library trustees will consider the contract on Thursday.

Officials caution, however, that branch closure is possible again in 2012 – when most of the library system’s reserves have been used.

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