Union Sues to Block Library Outsourcing RFP

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 11:59

Just a month after the Simi Valley (Calif.) City Council voted to withdraw its city library from the Ventura County Library System, the union local that represents southern California library workers is suing to have the decision reversed.

Filed January 10 in Ventura County Superior Court by Local 721 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the lawsuit charges that the city, in passing a resolution that went into effect immediately, failed to give the 30 days’ notice required when taking an action that amounts to a legislative act—such as severing its library’s ties to the county system. “The [December 12] resolution is not subject to a referendum or appeal and so they are eliminating the voice of the people,” SEIU Local 721 Communications Director Jesse Luna said in the January 12 Ventura County Star. “We told [the city council] they were doing it the wrong way but they wouldn’t listen.”

The local is seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to keep Simi Valley officials from issuing a request for proposals to outsource the operation of the Simi Valley Library.

The union’s issue is with the timing of the vote, which was taken two weeks before a California law went into effect that mandates transparency when cities contemplate leaving a county library system in order to contract out library services in documenting anticipated cost savings. “We have an opportunity to take action in advance of that law going into effect,” Council member Glen Becerra said at the time of the vote.

“My taxes that go to Ventura County first have paid for this whole system for many years, and withdrawing from the county system is throwing away what we’ve invested to this point,” Simi Valley resident Garr Wharry, who is the other plaintiff in the lawsuit, told the Star. “Until a real cost analysis is done, we are in the dark.”

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