The COVID-19 pandemic exposed flaws in many places, including in museums. These flaws have led to a record number of organizing wins for employees.
Sharon Johnson of The Progressive joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss many of these organizing victories and what led to so many museum workers to seek representation.
Why museum workers organize
Museum workers face plenty of unique challenges. Many of these challenges relate to the geographical location of museums, pursuit of further education and more.
Johnson said museum workers in cities such as New York City, Boston and Philadelphia have chosen to organize for better wages. Since many are college graduates, they are strapped with debt. Additionally, they have to live in areas where rent prices and mortgage payments are high.
Additionally, they can interact with thousands of visitors each day. These interactions can lead to COVID-19 spread and other illnesses. Without a union, their healthcare costs can be an additional burden.
Museum organizing drives
Johnson said the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh have done a great job of organizing museum workers. They have managed to organize the employees at five of the most popular museums in the city.
She also mentioned United Auto Workers Local 2110, who have done considerable work to organize the employees of the Portland Museum of Art.
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