AFSCME DC and Virginia Library Workers Build Community

On an early Saturday in November library professionals from across DC and northern Virginia came together to hold a virtual roundtable to discuss the challenges they face as essential public service professionals during this global pandemic. The forum hosted by AFSCME Council 20 library leaders and AFSCME Virginia library leaders provided a common online space where they were able to discuss the importance of their work, the challenges they face serving their communities, while also trying to be safe and healthy during this global pandemic.

Charlotte Malerich, Author of Factory Witches of Lowell, library assistant for Arlington county and AFSCME Virginia leader hosted the event. It also included a panel discussion by union AFSCME members who were able to share some of the benefits they have negotiated in their contract that kept them safe and also provided necessary material and resources needed for their jobs. “My hope for this forum was to provide a space where we can begin to build a community of AFSCME union library professionals that can address not just pandemic related concerns but as we get stronger other larger issues facing city, county, state and national library professionals.” 

 One of the presenters at the forum included Qaddafi Sabree – Library Technician II, Howard University Libraries/ Local 3829 President. He talked about his union structure and provided examples of issues he and his fellow union members were able to address including scheduling and PPE material and other at his workplace at Howard University. "I think what was giving all of our participants the knowledge that they are not alone is the fact that we are all facing many of the same situations in the Library of Congress, at Howard University Libraries, or in an Arlington County public library branch. We have so much to learn from each other.” 

The AFSCME Virginia library professionals plan to continue to hold Library Forums across Virginia as they continue to reach out to other cities and counties across Virginia with the goal of winning collective bargaining rights for library workers across the commonwealth with AFSCME Virginia. In doing so, they will join thousands of library professionals in over 250 library systems across the country united to improve standards for library employees and the services they provide in the community.