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Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium workers are forming a union with AFSCME

Photo credit: Nicholas Klein/Getty Images
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium workers are forming a union with AFSCME
By AFSCME Council 31 ·
Tags: Momentum
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium workers are forming a union with AFSCME
Photo credit: Shedd Museum Workers

CHICAGO – John G. Shedd Aquarium employees are forming their union, Shedd Workers United, and affiliating with AFSCME Council 31.

The April 18 announcement came in a public letter signed by 60 workers. When certified, Shedd Workers United/AFSCME will represent about 300 employees across the aquarium, including throughout its departments of Animal Care, Learning & Community, Guest Relationsand more.

“We believe that by joining together in our union, we can truly have a voice to advocate for our own welfare and for the welfare of the animals that bring us together,” employees wrote.

“In recent years, we have voiced concerns to management regarding work-life imbalance, financial struggles, and lack of communication, but received little tangible response. Together in our union, we can bring to light and work to resolve these inequities in order to better our own lives and — very importantly — those of the animals we work to protect and uplift.”

The union’s logo — hand-drawn by a Shedd employee — features a beluga, a shark, a plankton and Neptune’s trident, the staff wielded by the mythical god of the sea, which tops the aquarium’s dome.

Shedd workers invite the public to share their support for the union at

In forming their union, Shedd employees join workers from the Field Museum, Museum of Science & Industry, Notebaert Nature Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago who have all recently organized with AFSCME.

“Shedd employees care deeply about their work, the aquarium, every creature that lives there and everyone who visits. We’re proud to include them in our union family and help them use their voice,” said Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch, who’s also an AFSCME International vice president. “We call on Shedd leadership to respect workers’ right to organize free from management interference.”

AFSCME represents more than 35,000 cultural workers across the country — more than any other union. The AFSCME Cultural Workers United (CWU) campaign has helped workers at more than 100 museums nationwide form unions and gain a voice in their workplaces.

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