Today’s news:

Library lays off 44 workers after talks with union fail

After 11th-hour negotiations between the Queens Public Library and the union representing the library’s workers failed last month, 44 employees were laid off Friday.

Representatives from Local 1321 said the workers, who include librarians, office aides and other personnel, had their jobs terminated to help offset the $2.4 million budget gap.

Union president John Hyslop said those library employees could have avoided losing their jobs if the library had made financial changes to other areas.

Hyslop said his administrators offered a proposal whereby the library would use its corporate funds to pay for an early retirement incentive that would have cut costs through voluntary separation of its workforce, but the library rejected the offer.

“The administration of the Queens Library has been unresponsive to both the needs of the workers and the community they serve. Morale is abysmal and Queens’ residents will suffer. This is such a sad situation,” he said in a statement.

Library officials said the organization met with union leaders Aug. 30 for one last bargaining negotiation. The talks included a proposal under which the employees’ vacation time would not carry over from one year to the next, but the union rejected the offer, according to the library.

The union also wanted the library to guarantee that no layoffs would occur next year, but the library could not make that commitment, library officials said.

“In economic times as uncertain as these, it would be fiscally irresponsible to make such an unprecedented promise,” the Queens Public Library said in a statement.

Originally, 46 employees were slated to be laid off, but two quit before Friday’s ´╗┐deadline, according library officials.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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