Riding a wave of unionization sweeping through museums across the country, workers at the Art Institute of Chicago voted to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The vote was 142 to 44, the bargaining unit said, with 20 votes “not counted due to management issues.”
On its website Tuesday, the union wrote: “Now as a union we are going to take the next steps to shape our future at the museum, coming together in listening sessions, looking at needs to inform priorities negotiation process, and appointing and electing our negotiating team. . “
The Union of the Art Institute will be the first group of its kind in a major Chicago museum. This comes amid a larger surge of institutional workers across the United States. Earlier this week, workers at the Jewish Museum in New York City announced pressure to unionize. Similar efforts are also underway at the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
“As promised from the start, we fully respect the decision of our employees to join a union,” a representative from the Art Institute of Chicago said in a statement. “The museum intends to negotiate in good faith with AFSCME to negotiate an initial collective agreement that best meets the needs of all parties concerned while allowing us to continue to fulfill our mission. “
When they began their efforts to organize last summer, Art Institute workers wanted greater pay equity and safer working conditions. “Although concerns about wages, workloads and working conditions are not new to the Art Institute, the financial and social uncertainties of the past year have brought these issues to the fore,” the letter said. . One of their stated goals was to uplift “the experiences and voices of BIPOC staff” in an attempt to combat the “colonialist legacy” of the Art Institute.