The role of the union in promoting social justice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This chapter explores the relationship between unionization in the information sector and the concepts of human rights and social justice. Methodology/approach - Recent trends in unionization rates in the United States and Canada are examined, as well as examples of union activity in the information sector drawn from the Union Library Workers blog. The concept of social justice unionism and its applicability to the information sector is discussed. Findings - While overall unionization rates in both the United States and Canada are in decline, unionization rates in libraries and other information institutions in both countries are among the highest of any industrial sector. Unions continue to engage in activities that promote the rights of their workers and the people who benefit from the services these workers provide. Social implications - Social justice unionism offers a way for library workers to actively promote social justice for all, not just their workers and their patrons, through a commitment to broader issues affecting their communities at large. Originality/value - Much of the work on unionization in the information sector focuses on "bread-and-butter" issues related directly to unionized workers and the benefits that unionization brings to both the workers and their workplaces. This chapter explores the role of the union in promoting human rights and social justice on a broader scale, introducing a discussion of the concept of social justice unionism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Librarianship
StatePublished - 2016


  • Academic libraries
  • Library workers
  • Public libraries
  • Social justice
  • Unions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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