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Season 4, Episode 207

AFSCME continuing the fight for worker protections in Baltimore museum

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Guest Name:

Leila Grothe

Guest Website:

Cultural Workers United 

Guest Social Media:





Supportive Documents:

Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Baltimore Museum of Arts, Leila Grothe, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the formation of the Baltimore Museum of Arts Union, a new member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Cultural Workers United.

Grothe has worked in the visual arts for 20 years, with the last four years at the Baltimore Museum of Arts. Grothe first learned about a unionizing effort in the summer of 2021, and the effort was taken public in September 2021. It was a long wait to vote for unionizing, but in July 2022, the workers voted to join a union. It’s only been a year since the unit was officially recognized, and they are still in the first contract negotiations with their employer.

While the unionizing efforts began during the pandemic, it wasn’t the main reason the workers were seeking to join a union. The long hours and consistently low pay were the driving forces behind the pro-union effort, Grothe said. In a survey of the bargaining unit, 86 percent of the surveyed members had previously considered leaving the museum due to the low pay. Unionizing was the apparent path to providing workers a seat at the table to improve the working conditions.

There are now 29 states with unionized museums in the cultural sector. In Grothe’s memory, she can’t think of a time that unionizing efforts by a cultural sector museum have failed. The needs of museum workers aren’t just limited to the Baltimore Museum of Arts but have long been a problem across the museum industry. While it is a long process to become a union member, it’s proven necessary to protect the workers and provide them with access to the opportunities to make the job a career.

To hear more from Grothe, listen to the episode above.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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