This one's going to irritate some people, but what else is new.
A library in the Empire State is having trouble with the union, or rather the union has been having trouble with it, and they haven't been able to agree on a contract for two years. Seems that the librarians found out they were making less than other librarians in the county, and they didn't like it.
"The Nassau County Library Association conducted an annual voluntary survey of the county's libraries not long ago. The survey found that for the 2004-05 fiscal year, the average salary for an experienced librarian was more than $58,000, whereas in Baldwin, the same experienced librarians earned an average of $46,350. " Has anyone seen the obvious solution yet? Come on, what should those allegedly underpaid librarians do?
According to the longer story, "Low salary, many employees said, is one of the main reasons that Baldwin Public Library has lost hardworking staff to other libraries, or employees have moved out-of-state because they can't afford to live here." So who's left? The non-hardworking staff? It looks like this problem is solving itself.
So the union is demanding a big pay raise. But the union is demanding more money for everyone, of course, because that's the way unions work. Unfortunately, not everyone deserves more money, and apparently the library board there is willing to lose the best employees to higher paying libraries. In fact, considering that it seems to be an admitted fact that the most ambitious librarians have already left for greener pastures, a big raise now would be rewarding the less ambitious ones. Where exactly is the logic for a big across-the-board raise here?
The Annoyed Librarian is all for librarians making more money, and wants everyone to fight the good fight. But the obvious solution if you're a Baldwin librarian and aren't happy with your salary is to go over to one of those higher-paying libraries. Obviously the Baldwin Library administrators or whomever have decided they'll settle for those librarians who'll settle for less.
The poster over at the Union Librarian is named "An Injury to One is an Injury to All." Horsefeathers! I'm not injured at all by this. And neither are the higher-paid librarians in the the other libraries. The argument could be made that the librarians who haven't managed to leave Baldwin are being hurt because they're not being paid as well as other librarians. Does this make sense? How are the librarians any worse off than before they knew how badly they were paid relative to others? What possible complaint can they have? That everyone isn't paid the same regardless of what they do or where they work? Are public libraries a form of public support? Is that their function? I know all about the Americans with No Abilities Act, but this may be going too far. What if some of us don't want to link arms and sing the Internationale? What if, instead, we'd rather do a great job and get rewarded for it?
Fighting the good fight for higher librarian salaries means encouraging great people to become librarians, discouraging not-so-great people, making library schools rigorous and demanding, limiting the market, and encouraging great librarians to demand more from their libraries, not expecting library boards to raise your salary just because you claim you're underpaid. If great people become librarians and then raise the talent and salary bar, then a victory for one is a victory for all.
There is no "just wage" for librarians; that's just not the way markets work. If you really want more money, go out and find a better offer. The hard truth is that if you're not being offered more money somewhere else, then you're not underpaid.