Counties Urge Flexibility in Employment Policies for Public Library Systems

On January 31, 2023, Associate Policy Director Brianna January testified before the House Appropriations Committee in opposition to HB 0065 – Education – Public Libraries – Collective Bargaining.

In establishing a uniform collective bargaining process for public library employees, HB 0065 repeals current effective law leaving the decision to engage in collective bargaining in the hands the funding and operational authorities of local library systems — the governing boards and county governments. Jurisdictions seeking to bargain collectively have in the past pursued single-county legislation, specifically tailored to suite local needs. Conversely, this bill’s one-size-fits-all approach would not only impinge on local decision-making, but would also force potentially unsustainable significant costs on counties, since the legislation does not provide for any added State support for potential salary, benefit, and pension increased incurred by the forthcoming collective bargaining enabled under the bill.

From the MACo Testimony:

Maryland’s libraries do it all: they support early literacy, create collaborative spaces, connect Marylanders to technology, foster community engagement, prepare Maryland’s kids for K-12 learning, assist residents with workforce development, and serve as central resource hubs for families. Unfortunately, HB 65 could lead to a rollback of these critical functions at a time when access to these free and low-cost services is most needed. Alternatively, this bill might force some library systems to start charging Maryland residents for these services, shifting burdens onto many whose ability to pay is limited.

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