Yesterday, United Museum Workers, a group of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh staff, announced that they filed for a union election to join the United Steelworkers (USW). The group includes 500 scientists, educators, art handlers, gift shop clerks, and other staff members from across the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh system, which encompasses the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, The Warhol Museum, and the Carnegie Science Center.
The United Museum Workers originally announced plans to organize on June 29, and are now seeking a formal vote through the National Labor Relations Board.
"Our movement began with concerns about transparency and limited career opportunities, but it now has even greater urgency as it's expanded to address furloughs, pay cuts, and safety issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic," says Katie Pirilla, an art handler at the Carnegie Museum of Art, in a press release. "Workers continued organizing throughout the pandemic and found renewed strength in our fight for a safe museum for employees and the public alike."
The USW represents 850,000 workers employed across manufacturing and production industries, as well as white-collar fields. Over the past decade, the group has welcomed local tech and health care workers, grad students, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh staff, and others into the fold.
By filing for a certification election, the United Museum Workers will pursue a collective bargaining unit comprising of all of the Carnegie Museums and central administrative staff.
"Our group represents a diverse range of departments, duties, interests, and ideas, but what all of us need is a seat at the table and a voice in the museum's decision-making process," says Ryan Martin, a sales associate in the Carnegie Museum of Art gift shop. "The founder of our museums, Andrew Carnegie, made his fortunes on the backs of thousands of workers who labored for low pay in extremely hazardous conditions. We intend to honor this legacy by voting for union representation."