Tacoma Art Museum staff move to unionize
Employees of the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) are pushing to join the Washington Federation of State Employees, the Seattle Times reports. If they are successful, as many unionized museum workers across the country have been in recent months, TAM will become the first major arts institution in Washington State with unionized staff in all departments. Among the benefits workers hope to gain from unionizing are higher wages, more benefits, a voice in institutional decisions that affect them, and increased transparency from management. Wages are of particular concern according to unionized staff, with many workers earning between $15 and $17 an hour, which they say is not a living wage in the Tacoma area and forces them to work a job. second job.
On October 17, employees delivered a letter to the museum’s board of directors requesting union representation. Additionally, about a dozen employees gathered outside across the street from the museum that day to announce the organizing effort, with local and state union leaders out in force to show their support. “TAM workers are undervalued, underpaid and ignored,” noted Eden Redmond, TAM grants manager and member of the committee of three workers elected by museum workers to organize on their behalf, speaking at the of the assembly. “Resources for grievances or advancement are only available if you can find them, invent them, or befriend the right people.”
To date, approximately 90% of the twenty-seven eligible TAM employees (excluding high-level workers) have signed union authorization cards. Since the majority of workers have formally expressed their desire to unionize, the museum may choose to voluntarily recognize the union and enter into contract negotiations. If they refuse to do so, staff can file an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB); if the election yields a victory for the union, with a majority vote to join, the NLRB will certify the union, requiring the museum to legally recognize it. Board Chairman Jeff Williams told the Time that he was unaware that museum employees “felt this strongly” about unionization and claimed that TAM’s management and board would do “due diligence to ensure that we handle this in the most appropriate way.” fair as possible. We want our employees to be happy,” Williams continued, “and we want our employees to be happy with their jobs. »