Breaking News
More () »

Columbus art museum workers call for 'a seat at the table'

CMA Workers United is calling for union recognition from the Columbus Museum of Arts as unions across the country are on the rise.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) employees rallied together on Monday to inform the museum’s management of their intent to organize a union, calling for voluntary recognition.

“A lot of it is wanting to have more of a say in the decisions that are made at the museum. We're the staff that is here every day, we're interacting with the public,” Chief Registrar of the museum Nicole Rome said.

CMA Workers United said the group is calling for fair wages to retain staff members and safer working conditions for the front-line workers, which they said was compromised during the pandemic.

“I think a big part of it was our staff was reduced by a significant number, our staff was asked to be in the building prior to when vaccines were available and to make sure every visitor in the museum had a great experience,” Event Manager Mark Harrison said.

The group is joined by the support from other local union efforts including Wex Workers United from the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Joe Synder from Wex Workers United said many non-profit workers are facing what they call, “the passion tax.”

“If you work in arts or nonprofit, you are expected to… experience the joy of the work, you do it because you love it,” Snyder said “And I think a lot of us do love what we do and we want these better working conditions so that it can be sustainable, so it can be our livelihoods truly in addition to our passion.”

John Coneglio, the president of Columbus Education Association, also came out to show his support.

“A union equals the playing field. The bosses have a lot of the power and this is a way for the workers to get their voice heard, and it's important that you listen to the workers’ voice,” Coneglio explained.

Meanwhile, unions across the nation are on the rise. Kate Bronfenbrenner, the director of labor education research at Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said in the last nine months there has been a 58% increase in the number of petitions filed.

"The number of workers organized is also increased. A lot of that activity has been in the retail sector and the nonprofit sector,” Bronfenbrenner said, citing the pandemic conditions as a major factor.

“It was one thing to sacrifice when it was hard times, it's another thing if the sacrifice means risking your life and the life of your family,” Bronfenbrenner said.

A statement released by the Columbus Museum of Art said, “The Museum is invested in participating in a fair and respectful bargaining process, ensuring all staff have an opportunity to make their voices heard. This is a collaborative, ongoing conversation.”

Local News: Recent Coverage ⬇️ 

Before You Leave, Check This Out