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The Andy Warhol Museum.
The Andy Warhol Museum.

Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museums Staff Vote to Unionize

Staff at the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh voted 278 to 75 yesterday to unionize, joining the Steelworkers’ Union (USW), also based in Pittsburgh. Full- and part-time workers at the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center, and Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History—including scientists, educators, curatorial assistants, administrative staff and front-desk staff, gift shop clerks, and ushers—will become part of USW’s new 500-member United Museum Workers unit.

The vote arrived roughly six months after staff at the institutions officially launched a unionization campaign, in June, following the museums’ reopening to the public after being closed for several months owing to the continuing Covid-19 crisis. During that time, more than six hundred workers at the museums were furloughed. The campaigners sought a safer work environment, better pay and benefits, more inclusive hiring, greater accessibility, increased transparency, and a role in the museum’s decision-making process.

“We voted to join the USW to gain what all workers deserve: a seat at the table and a voice in the decisions that affect our work lives,” said Eileen Viloria, youth programs coordinator at the Warhol Museum and a member of the Carnegie Museums’ union organization committee, in an email to The Art Newspaper. “We hope to bargain a first contract that raises wages and improves benefits while providing greater transparency in those decisions and more opportunities for career advancement.”

“Our goal is to build the best, most welcoming and safest museum system for workers and for the people of the Pittsburgh area,” acknowledged Chloe Deardorff, a program presenter at the Carnegie Science Center, in a statement. “The best way to do that is through collective action. We look forward to sitting down and bargaining a first contract that helps us to reach those goals.”

The Carnegie Museums are currently closed through at least January 4, 2021, in accordance with a new set of guidelines issued by Pennsylvania authorities on December 10, which went into effect the following day.