SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Employees of the Salt Lake City Public Library plan to officially announce their intention to establish Utah’s first library union on Monday, April 24, aiming to address numerous issues including low wages.

The union, which is named the Salt Lake City Public Library Workers United, will join AFSCME Local 1004 to protect about 345 workers who are employed at the nine library branches throughout Salt Lake City.

“As staff, we are paid low wages during a time of rising rent and inflation,” said Jacob Rosenzweig, a librarian at the Marmalade branch. “We – who serve the public, who help keep our branches clean and safe, who directly implement and feel the effects of every policy – deserve to have real input in the decision-making processes that affect us and the public, and we deserve to be compensated appropriately for it. A union can help us achieve that.”

According to the press release from the union, workers are hoping to address “longstanding” issues such as safety, exclusion of staff in the decision-making process, lack of transparency, wages that fall below the national average, and inaccessible and expensive healthcare.

 “Our union will redistribute power into the hands of those of us that keep the libraries open and available to the public,” said Yutzil Valerie Roman, an associate librarian at the Sprague branch.

The press release states that Salt Lake City Public Library workers are the only group of public employees who are excluded from “recognition and access to collective bargaining rights.”

The Salt Lake City Public Library has released the following statement after learning about the proposed unionization:

The Library is interested to learn about the details of AFSCME’s proposal and what staff are hoping to achieve in this effort. SLCPL’s top priority is to care for each other and Library leadership is looking at this as an opportunity to learn more about additional ways we can make our organization an even better place to work.