Art Institute of Chicago Workers Vote for a Union – ARTnews.com

Riding a wave of bloated unions on museums across the country, workers at the Art Institute of Chicago have voted to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The negotiating unit said the vote count was 142 to 44, with 20 votes “not counted due to management challenges.”

The union wrote on its website Tuesday, “Now, as a union, we will take the following steps to shape our future at the Museum, gather at hearings, survey needs to inform negotiation priorities, and nominate and elect our negotiating team.”

Union Art Institute will be the first collection of its kind in a major museum in Chicago. It comes amid an even bigger push from workers in institutions across the US. Earlier this week, workers at the Jewish Museum in New York announced a campaign to create unions. Similar efforts are also underway at the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

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“As we have promised from the beginning, we fully respect our employees’ decision to join a union,” a representative from the Art Institute of Chicago said in a statement. “The Museum intends to enter into good faith negotiations with AFSCME to negotiate an initial collective bargaining agreement that best meets the needs of all parties involved while allowing us to continue to carry out our mission.”

When they first began their efforts to form unions last summer, art institute workers said they were seeking greater pay equity and safer working conditions. “Although concerns about wages, workload and working conditions are not new to the Art Institute, the financial and social uncertainty of the past year has given rise to these issues,” the letter reads. One of their stated goals was to raise the “experiences and voices of BIPOC staff” in an effort to address the colonial legacy of the Art Institute.

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