We won our union election!


 Kat Cancio 
(845) 271-9651 
[email protected] 

 Workers at Enoch Pratt Free Library system win historic union election by a landslide 
The library workers are the latest to join a successful wave of unionization
among the cultural

Baltimore – Months after workers at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) won their union, workers at the Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) voted overwhelmingly for a union. An official vote count from the mail ballot election took place on November 18, with workers successfully voting 218-12 to join together as Pratt Workers United. The new bargaining unit will now represent approximately 330 workers from EPFL system’s 21 library branches throughout the City of Baltimore.  

Workers first announced their intent to unionize with AFSCME Council 67 on June 1 and cited better wages, a safer working environment, consistency in hiring and promotion processes at the library and an overall desire for respect as staff as primary motivations for organizing. Although Pratt Workers United was able to demonstrate majority support for a staff union at EPFL, the Board of Trustees and Directors rejected a request to voluntarily recognize the union and instead signed an agreement for a union election facilitated by the American Arbitration Association from October 28 through November 18. 

Throughout the organizing process, workers received an incredible showing of support from local community members, businesses and library workers throughout the country. A community letter of support posted on PWU’s website has garnered over 700 signatures to date. 

On Friday evening, workers gathered at AFSCME Council 67’s Union Hall to celebrate the results of the vote count together. When the group learned that they had won their union by a 95% vote, Jerome Owens, who has worked in facilities for 24 years at the Orleans Street branch, was overjoyed.  

“Now that we have our union, we’ll be ready to stand up for ourselves and for each other. We can do so much more when we work together as a team than we can on our own,” said Owens. It’s time for us to build a strong union with a strong contract. Our work is just getting started. 

For workers like Barae Hirsch, who works at EPFL’s Bookmobile, PWU's union victory represents a win for library workers all over the country. According to them, winning a union at EPFL is proof that workers hold the power to make change in the spaces and institutions they constitute. 

As public library workers, we are purveyors of free education, literacy, shelter and access to information, and we need to have a say in how we provide these necessary and over-commodified resources,” said Hirsch. “Library workers and workers in all industries across all departments deserve respect, dignity, and living wages, and we are fighting for these rights for all workers.”