Skip to main content

Workers at last nonunion library system in western Washington decide to unionize

Photo: Sno-Isle Employees United
Workers at last nonunion library system in western Washington decide to unionize
By AFSCME Staff ·

MARYSVILLE, Wash. – Sno-Isle Libraries was the only library system in western Washington where workers lacked a voice on the job. That’s no longer the case.

Last week, workers at Sno-Isle Libraries formed a union through AFSCME Council 2. Sno-Isle Libraries Employees United (SILEU) will cover 377 workers across the library system’s 23 branches, Service Center and Library on Wheels.

Washington’s Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) verified supermajority support for a union among the workers and sent notification recognizing the union on July 25.

The workers announced on May 19 they wanted to form a union to address issues such as unfair compensation, inadequate health and safety protocols, the eradication of discrimination and harassment, and to gain a voice in the library system’s decision-making process. Workers and community supporters attended the library’s board meeting on May 30 to notify management that they had filed for union recognition with PERC.

Council 2 celebrated the announcement of SILEU’s recognition and welcomed the workers as the newest members of the union family.

“I’ve never met a group of employees that are more committed to the work that they do,” said Michael Rainey, Council 2’s president and executive director.

For workers, SILEU’s victory represents a new beginning where staff will be able to collaborate with management to discuss the future of the library system.

“For the first time in 60 years, staff will meet management on a level playing field,” said Marie Byars, an information assistant at the Oak Harbor branch.

"I’m blown away but not surprised that due to our hard work and the strong support of our colleagues, we unionized in less than a year since we began our organizing efforts. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of this movement,” said Kate Spencer, a page at the Mill Creek branch. “I cannot wait to see the good things that are in store for our SILEU union members."

SILEU members are preparing to negotiate their first contract and working on their constitution and bylaws.

SILEU is the newest addition to AFSCME Cultural Workers United, a national movement of cultural workers who are unionizing for a voice on the job. SILEU members join workers at the Seattle Public Library, the King County Library System, the Everett Public Library, the Pierce County Library System and the Tacoma Public Library, who all formed unions through Council 2. In addition, workers at the Tacoma Art Museum are forming a union through AFSCME Council 28/Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE).

Related Posts