Milwaukee Art Museum workers seek to unionize

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Employees at the Milwaukee Art Museum are taking steps to unionize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 10.

Security guards at the museum are already represented by IAMAW and reached a tentative agreement on a new contract last week.

“Milwaukee Art Museum workers are passionate art advocates who believe that MAM is a vital source of inspiration and education for the people of Wisconsin. They are central to carrying out the museum’s mission and are raising their voices for changes in working conditions that will make MAM a stronger, more transparent institution that is a true partner to the Milwaukee community.  They seek a seat at the table in order to work towards financial fairness, social justice, and job security at MAM,” a press release announcing the effort says.

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The release touts 150 workers taking steps to organize. Those steps include a drive to encourage employees to sign union cards. Once “a strong majority” of workers sign cards, the group plans to seek voluntary recognition from the museum.

“In times like these, when the world is reeling, it is essential for us to come together in solidarity. The issues we face at work impact us all,” said Ryan Jann, a MAM employee who works in visitor services. “By putting our individual voices together into one voice, we can improve our working conditions and advocate for those who are most precarious among us.”

The group leading the organizing effort says the issue it is seeking to address include a lack of diversity in upper level and highly paid positions, part-time employees being given a workload that requires more than 40 hours of work per week, full-time employees being unable to pay for available health insurance, and giving priority to furloughed workers over new hires as the museum ramps up operations.

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“The Milwaukee Art Museum is only now learning that a group of employees was discussing the possibility of forming a union,” MAM said in a statement. “No one within this group has contacted management to discuss any relevant concerns. At the Museum, we continually work toward creating a safe, healthy and open environment for all our employees. We invite dialogue and encourage staff to address any issues with their supervisor or human resources.”



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