BALTIMORE – On the eve of International Workers Day, staff at The Walters Art Museum last Friday announced their plans to form a union with AFSCME Council 67. Employees behind the unionization effort, now called Walters Workers United, cited concerns over the health and safety of employees, transparency, pay equity, and the museum’s top-down decision-making as part of a list of key issues they hope to address through a union, according to the group’s mission statement, which can be found here.
“Our institution has made some strides in the right direction in recent years, but we have reached a point where leadership cannot continue this progress without including staff in the process,” according to Will Hays, who works in the Conservation, Collections, and Technical Research department at the Walters. “Issues like pay equity, transparency, employment security and accountability need to be addressed and improved to protect the workers who make the Walters possible. Literally, without us, the Walters could not exist or function.”
Walters Workers United hopes to join a recent wave of organizing victories across the industry, which includes the Philadelphia Art Museum Union and Walker Worker Union in Minnesota. A public website for the group features a letter from the organizing committee inviting co-workers to unite to create change at The Walters Art Museum.