CHICAGO — In a historic campaign to form the first union at the landmark cultural institutions, employees at the Art Institute of Chicago and School of the Art Institute are demanding fair pay and transparent leadership.
The workers coined the name ‘AICWU’, or Art Institute of Chicago Workers United, as the name of the proposed union, looking to amplify their voices in the wake of layoffs during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was no transparency. No explanation that was given to us. No conversations being had,” SAIC employee Myia Brown said.
More than 600 workers have signed on so far for forming the union, hoping to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees if accepted as a union.
That union represents more than 25,000 library workers at 275 public and private libraries and 10,000 workers at 91 museums nationwide.
“We have been working on this for well over a year, to reach a majority is fantastic. The Art Institute has been putting a lot of effort against this happening, it feels good to achieve their goal and ask them to live up to their promise,” Art Institute employee Sheila Majumdar said.
“This is a chance for management to show that they mean what they say and that we have a right to form a union or not and we hope they can respect that,” Brown said.
Employees are awaiting a September 29 deadline for the school and museum to respond to the union’s potential recognition.