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Brandeis librarians rally community in bid for fair contract

December 23, 2021

Launch “Two Won’t Do” campaign as university angles for 2 percent raises amid high inflation.

Brandeis University librarians and their community supporters rallied this month to build support for the Local 888 chapter’s demands for a fair contract. One sign referred to a Brandeis tradition: “This Kindness Day: Support Your Brandeis Librarians.”
Other signs trumpeted the chapter’s campaign for a real increase in wages: “Two Won’t Do!” That’s as the university proposes 2 percent pay hikes, despite Massachusetts having skyrocketing housing costs.
The campaign comes as inflation bites into the earnings power of the average worker. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that its Consumer Price Index for all items rose by 6.8 percent for the year ending Nov. 30, the largest such annual increase since 1982.
“Librarians deserve to have fair and transparent wages that, at the very least, keep pace with inflation,” said Surella Seelig, outreach and special projects archivist at Brandeis. “We also deserve to receive raises that reflect our consistent hard work and years of dedicated service to the university — and our ever-growing skills, expertise and institutional knowledge.”
On Twitter, librarian Rachel Greenblatt said: “I love my job at Brandeis … and to keep it, I need to earn enough money there to support my family in the Boston area.”
Seelig added: “I love my work, but that does not pay the rent.”
Librarian Thomas Valicenti told The Brandeis Hoot newspaper that Local 888 members “face flat wages, opaque pay structures and no clear paths to careers.” A chapter negotiator, Valicenti said that the bargaining committee has had 11 sessions over the course of six months with the university.
“We still have a long way to go in order to get a fair contract,” he added. The chapter has 44 members and is negotiating a three-year contract.
In a previous campaign, the Brandeis librarians enlisted community support to successfully land a contract that meant members gained raises of up to 15 percent over the life of the three-year pact, in part with “market adjustments.” For an in-depth report, see Also: