As the union representative for the staff at Manhasset Library, it is necessary to respond and speak out regarding the investigation of the recent incident at the library on Dec. 14, and the subsequent articles in the media. Most specifically, the article of last week that mentions letters of support for the Library Director Maggie Gough, submitted by some employees.
It should be noted that these letters were solicited by the director’s office by way of a directive to departmental supervisors to request that staff write them. None of the letters of support quoted in public were written by any staff who witnessed the incident that day and therefore do not speak to that. Additionally, the fact that there are employees who have been fortunate not to have been subject to past derogatory and racist comments by the director does not diminish the fact that there are staff members who have unfortunately heard comments they wish they hadn’t.
How is it that the director is soliciting letters on her behalf in the midst of an ongoing investigation? This placed many staff members in a precarious position, feeling pressure to go public with support that they did not feel they could ethically provide and who are now worried about retaliation in the aftermath if the director remains.
The union is charged with representing all of its members, and as such it must support a work environment that allows employees to speak freely and without coercion either way. Those that feel they can support the director should do so, but those that feel they can’t because of what they heard on that day, or times prior, should not be made to feel that they will be retaliated against for not doing so.
Labor Relations Representative, United Public Service Employees Union