Field Museum

Chicago's Field Museum Staff Votes to Unionize

Workers at Chicago’s Field Museum have voted to unionize with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The employees voted 175-66 to affiliate with AFSCME’s Council 31, the union said. It said the National Labor Relations Board counted ballots Thursday that were cast during an election last month.

The vote means nearly 300 employees at the museum will become union members. Leaders of the organizing drive said the lopsided vote came despite an aggressive anti-union campaign from museum management.

Workers chose to establish a single bargaining unit to cover a range of job titles, organizing committee members said in announcing the election’s outcome.

Council 31 has scored a string of organizing victories involving workers at the Art Institute of Chicago and its school and the Newberry Library.

The Field Museum workers now will elect a bargaining committee and distribute a survey to members to get priorities for an initial contract.

“Our management team is ready to begin good-faith bargaining over an initial contract with AFSCME,” said Bridgette Russell, the Field’s public relations director. “We look forward to reaching an agreement.”

She said the museum was grateful that a high percentage of eligible employees voted in the election.

“While the election process produced strong feelings and contrasting views, we are once again unified in serving our visitors, our community and our world,” she said.

Roberta Lynch, executive director of Council 31, said, “In Chicago and nationwide, cultural workers are organizing to claim their seat at the table, improve their institutions and win fair compensation and respect. AFSCME is proud to be at the forefront of this movement for change.”

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