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Nature Museum workers win union election with AFSCME

Photo: Ben Krut/ Getty Images
Nature Museum workers win union election with AFSCME
By AFSCME Council 31 ·
Tags: Momentum

CHICAGO – Employees of the Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and its off-site collections facility in Chicago have won an overwhelming victory in their union election.

It's the sixth big win in the past year and a half for Chicago-area cultural workers organizing with AFSCME, following staff of the Art Institute of Chicago, staff and non-tenure-track faculty of the School of the Art Institute, and employees of the Newberry Library and the Field Museum. In addition, workers at the Museum of Science and Industry have filed for a union election that will be held today and 17.

The National Labor Relations Board will now certify the Nature Museum employees' union, Chicago Academy of Sciences Workers United (CASWU)/AFSCME Council 31.

CASWU/AFSCME will represent 45 employees who work in the museum's guest experience and engagement, education, biology or collections departments.

Of the workers' win, CASWU organizing committee member Melissa Siska said, "I'm very hopeful and excited for the opportunity to work with senior leadership to create an environment in the museum where everyone feels heard and valued."

"I feel relieved and excited that we won our union, and I'm glad that we can now get to work on a contract," said Anabel Hirano, volunteer and intern coordinator and a member of the union organizing committee. "One of my top goals is to improve transparency around advancement opportunities for all staff."

In the coming weeks, Nature Museum employees will elect a bargaining committee of co-workers to represent them in contract negotiations, develop and distribute a bargaining survey and hold listening sessions with their colleagues to determine their priorities.

"With our union, I look forward to having a voice in the decisions that affect my daily life and physical safety at work," said JessyRose Williams, an exhibit fabricator/technician and a member of the CASWU/AFSCME organizing committee.

Through AFSCME’s Cultural Workers United campaign, workers at museums, libraries, zoos and other cultural institutions are building power across the country. More than 10,000 museum workers at more than 90 cultural institutions in the public and private sectors have formed unions through AFSCME, as have more than 25,000 library workers at 275 public and private libraries.

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