Contingency Plans for Government Shutdown Made by Library of Congress, Others [UPDATED]

April 6, 2011

The unions representing Library of Congress workers signed a Memorandum of Understanding with LC April 5 regarding employees’ furlough status in the event that a Continuing Resolution to go on appropriating FY2011 funding for the federal government is not enacted by midnight, April 8.

The Library of Congress Professional Guild emailed its members that LC employees “will be notified via email if they will be placed in a furlough status by the end of the week. Employees who will be ‘excepted’ from the furlough and expected to report to work will receive notification via an individual memorandum. The unions will also receive a list of employees who have been notified they are excepted from the furlough.”

The Guild email concluded, “We urge you to contact your elected representatives in Congress and make your views known.”

The MOU between the library and AFSCME 2910 (the LC Professional Guild), AFSCME Local 2477, and the Congressional Research emphasized that the contingency agreement does not supersede existing union contracts. It goes on to stipulate that LC will provide workers furloughed because of a lapsed appropriation with contact information to apply for unemployment compensation and notify them “of the impact of a furlough on their benefits.”

Also stipulated is that, “if management determines that more than one employee is equally capable of performing the same excepted functions, management will consider rotating employees during a lapsed appropriation furlough” and that “a lapsed appropriation furlough shall not be used to punish or disadvantage any employee [or] used in lieu of an adverse or disciplinary action.”

ALA’s Washington Office is gathering information about whatever contingency plans the Department of Education and the Institute of Museum and Library Services may be preparing.

UPDATE: George A. Williams, media relations manager for the District of Columbia Public Library, has informed American Libraries that a federal shutdown would close the 25-library system. Most other city services could be shuttered as well, since the District is considered a federal agency.

Additionally the Washington Post reported April 6 that “failure to reach a budget deal would mean furloughing about 800,000 federal employees nationwide—many of whom are expected to surrender their BlackBerries, according to senior administration officials familiar with shutdown planning.” In an FAQ, the Post explained that the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution would be closed beginning April 9 although security guards would continue to protect their collections. Nonessential government websites will not be updated.



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