Baltimore County Public Library Employees Complete Two-Year Process To Unionize


Credit: Van Fisher/Patch

On September 13th, Baltimore County Public Library Employees signed a contract with Baltimore County to finalize their union membership.

This marks the end of a two-year process where BCPL employees joined The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to better negotiate with the Baltimore County Government.

IAM successfully lobbied for legislation that allows BCPL employees to bargain collectively. Baltimore County Council passed the law in July of 2021. Library employees voted to join the union in December of 2021. Towson hosts the second largest branch of BCPL by the number of visits, according to a 2018 report by the library, 421,483 people visited the Towson library that year.

According to BCPL United, employees did not acquire the rights easily. In February 2021, the library system's board of trustees hired a lobbying firm based in Annapolis in an attempt to add language to the legislation which would make it more difficult for employees to unionize.

According to lobbying reports, BCPL Board paid Cornerstone lobbying firm over $8100 between February 2021 and June 2021.

Why were employees seeking a Collecting Bargaining Agreement (CBA)?

BCPL employees have raised concerns about working conditions and salary over the last several years.

According to BCPL United, before the collective bargaining agreement, part-time library employees had no access to employer-provided healthcare. Many library locations also dealt with frequent air conditioning outages in the hot Maryland summer.

"If employees had a union at the time these incidents occurred, these situations would have been handled differently," BCPL United said. "Wages, hours, and working conditions are negotiable topics."

Many library employees possess a master's degree in library science and are highly skilled in managing databases and budgets.

What is in the new contract?

The agreement reached between BCPL and its employees includes a 3.8% pay increase starting immediately, plus a 3% cost-of-living increase next January. It also increases paid leave for part-time employees, including sick days and holidays.

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