The Howard County Library System Central Branch Library is in Columbia. (TBM / Jason Whong)

Howard County Library System workers voted 151-19 in favor of forming a union and joining AFSCME Maryland Council 3 in voting conducted from Feb. 12 through 15.

According to a Howard County Library Workers United release, the new bargaining unit will consist of full-time and part-time staff from all seven branches through all eligible titles within the library system.

HCLWU first announced its intention to unionize in October 2023, citing a desire to win a protected voice in the workplace, advocate for better wages and job protection, and address issues that include adequate staffing, paths to promotion, reasonable schedules and safe work environments.

“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,” said Cherise Tasker, an Instructor and Research Specialist for HCLS.

HCLS employees gained the right to unionize through state legislation approved in 2013, and now joins other unionized libraries that include the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, the Montgomery County Public Library System, and the Baltimore County Public Library System.

“We are so pleased that our employees have the right to unionize under legislation passed in 2013,” said Tonya Aiken, president and CEO of HCLS. “They exercised that right in elections held this week. We look forward to working with AFSCME to benefit our team and our community.”