Citing a lack of transparency and communication from Baltimore County Public Library leadership and seeking health care benefits for almost half the library system’s workforce, library employees are trying to unionize.
Librarians are seeking to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAMAW, a union representing nearly 647,000 employees across 200 industries.
Because local library systems are state agencies, the Maryland Attorney General’s office advises that collective bargaining be authorized through state legislation rather than a local charter amendment, which could, potentially, be challenged in court.
A bill pre-filed by Del. Cathi Forbes, who represents the Towson area, and another cross-filed by Sen. Shelly Hettleman, who represents portions of the northwest county, would authorize the library’s 578 part-time and full-time employees to form a union and collectively bargain.
“They love their jobs, they love working for the library,” said Forbes. “But they want better communication between workers and management, and … more say in decisions that are being made.”
Bridget Fitzgerald, a union organizer working with the library’s professional staff, said employees have sought to unionize for the last two years. There’s a lack of transparency in the hiring and promotion process, they say, and inconsistent policy enforcement across the library system’s 19 branches.