Workers overwhelmingly choose to form their union with AFSCME Maryland

Howard County — Over 200 library workers at the Howard County Library System have overwhelmingly voted to form their union with AFSCME Maryland Council 3. The election was conducted by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) over a four-day vote period from Monday, February 12 through Thursday, February 15. Workers voted 151-19 in favor of their union. 

The new bargaining unit will consist of full-time and part-time staff from all seven branches through all eligible job titles in the Howard County Library System. Howard County Library Workers United (HCLWU) first announced their intentions to unionize in October 2023. Workers formed their union to win a protected voice in the workplace, advocate for fair wages and job protection, and address issues, such as adequate staffing, paths to promotion, reasonable schedules and safe work environments.

In voting to unionize, Howard County Library Workers United joins thousands of workers organizing to improve their working conditions and workplace safety throughout Maryland and nationally. HCLWU joins several other unionized workforces in Maryland that have chosen to join AFSCME Maryland, including the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Museum. They follow dozens of other workforces that have unionized with AFSCME in recent years as part of AFSCME’s Cultural Workers United program. Nationally, AFSCME represents over 25,000 library workers.

“Victory for our union is a victory for Howard County residents. In many ways, library workers are first responders, since we are a free educational and supportive resource for all. Many of our customers primarily turn to us for information. The union will allow staff members to have real input into making decisions that benefit the community that has entrusted us to be careful stewards of public dollars.” – Cherise Tasker, Instructor and Research Specialist

“It has been an incredible process to organize our union with my wonderful coworkers from across HCLS. Our staff is full of such dedicated people, and the union that we have built will allow us to use our wealth of knowledge to better serve our community. We look forward to working together with system leadership to chart a successful path forward to support all of Howard County to learn, grow, and connect.” – Eliana Holgate, Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist

“My talented and dedicated coworkers amaze me everyday with their passion towards serving each member of our community. They inspire me to be better and do better. Organizing our union with them so that we can have a seat at the table where impactful decisions are being made about how we serve the community has been fantastic. We work with our community on a daily basis. We see them, we hear their stories, we work with them, we work for them. We know their needs, and we have long wanted to be part of the decision-making so that we can convey those needs to our administration. And now with this victory, we can finally have a voice.” – Piyali Callahan, Instructor and Research Specialist

“I love HCLS and want it to represent the community. As an organization, HCLS is passionate about bringing a message of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our union is not separate from HCLS, because as HCLS employees, we are a big part of what makes up HCLS. I look forward to the day we can feel heard and appreciated by library leadership. We all want the same thing, which is to provide a quality service to our community, but that can only happen when we are united.” – Mawii Clyde, Acquisitions Specialist

“I am thrilled to celebrate this creation of our union with all my fellow library workers and the community we serve. It has been an inspiration seeing how strong a team we make when we have the power to collaborate and let our voices be heard. Library staff are committed every day to providing the best service we can to our customers and that quality will only continue to grow as we improve our working environment and become directly involved with decision making that will benefit our community.” – Megan Royden, Instructor and Research Specialist

“We are excited to see the dedicated workers of the Howard County Library System choose to join our union, AFSCME Maryland. Now, they join our movement of over 45,000 other workers represented by AFSCME Maryland who are advocating for the fair pay, strong benefits, and safe working conditions that those who provide essential public services to our communities deserve. With today’s victory, we’re looking to the Maryland General Assembly and the Moore administration to do the right thing and pass the Library Workers Empowerment Act (HB 609/SB 591), so additional library workers across Maryland can finally have the respect and seat at the table that they deserve.” – Patrick Moran, AFSCME Maryland Council 3 President


About AFSCME Maryland Council 3
AFSCME Maryland Council 3 represents nearly 45,000 public service workers in local, city, county and state government as well as in higher education and the private sector who provide the valuable public services that our communities rely on. From Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, we make Maryland happen.