The library field has a long history of white supremacy, the ramifications of which are still in effect today. Denver Public Library is no exception. Ongoing work is being done to address, dismantle, and confront white supremacy in the institution’s structure and workplace culture. Denver Public Library Workers United wants to be more than just an open and welcoming space for BIPOC workers, but actively anti-racist in providing material and emotional support. Most importantly, we want to build real and not just symbolic power.
Our union recognizes we didn’t invent the wheel by any means and that we are working in a tradition of grassroots social justice work at the library. Denver Public Library Workers United acknowledges the work of EDIAC, RADA, CI, Community Resources Team, the Microaggression and Inclusion Task Force, WARAG, and all the individuals outside of these formal groups doing social justice and anti-racist work across our library. It is an ongoing project to dismantle systems of oppression that neither the library nor the union is perfect at doing, nor capable of doing alone.
The organizing body of our union is committed to establishing the following agreements:
- We do not speak for everyone. We will be guided as much as possible by BIPOC leaders and look to the history of unacknowledged labor by BIPOC people when we continually evaluate our workplace needs.
- Racism, transphobia, sexism, ableism, and discrimination in all its forms will continue to persist even when gains are made, which is why the union will always strive for an ever-improving intersectional solidarity.
- We acknowledge the differences between all of us, each person is a whole individual with complex lives, feelings, and experiences. We honor the reality of people’s lives and do not believe in the optics of representation without real power, decision-making, and material compensation.
- Our union does not represent one viewpoint or idea, anti-racist work and solidarity are always situational and multi-faceted.
- Our union acknowledges that many library workers experience racist and sexual harassment on the job and will not accept that employees must tolerate harassment from customers or coworkers. Nor will the union tolerate or protect coworkers who engage in racist harassment, homophobia, sexism, ableism or any other kind of discrimation.
The members of this union are coming from a place of humility, knowing that we have much to learn about how to confront conflict and create an authentic space and workplace. We will work with existing efforts to dismantle the organization’s white supremacist culture and values. We ask our coworkers of color to join us, not as “the voice” or “representation” of all marginalized people in our organization, but as complex human beings from different backgrounds with different needs, values, and experiences.
Denver Public Library Workers United is going to engage in ongoing anti-racist work to create the kind of organizing environment and workplace where all can truly thrive. Denver Public Library Workers United wants to offer all workers real power in our workplace.