October 13, 2022

Field Museum employees forming union with Council 31

Employees of Chicago’s iconic Field Museum announced in a public letter today that they are coming together to form their union, Field Museum Workers United. Like workers at the Art Institute of Chicago and its affiliated school whose organizing inspired them, Field Museum employees are also joining AFSCME Council 31.

The Field workers’ public letter, signed by 63 employees who are part of the union organizing committee, can be read in its entirety here.

“Our skills and our experience are invaluable to the success of the museum. It’s time for our voices to be heard and respected,” the employees wrote. “Only by forming a union will we win the respect and dignity at work that we deserve. We care deeply about the Field Museum and want to uphold its mission while improving our work environment.”

Field Museum Workers United will represent some 330 employees, including collections assistants and technicians; exhibitions preparators, registrars and designers; visitor service representatives; research scientists and assistants; building attendants; engineering assistants; learning center employees; facilities, groundskeeping and housekeeping staff; and many more.

“Once we form our union with AFSCME Council 31, the balance of power will be shifted,” the workers continued in their letter. “Through the collective voice of Field Museum Workers United, we will advocate for an equitable, sustainable, and transparent workplace for museum employees at every level.”

The Field Museum Workers United logo features two elephants coming together with trunks intertwined and raised in unity. Created by an employee on the union organizing committee, the logo demonstrates solidarity through an homage to the Fighting African Elephants in the museum’s Stanley Field Hall.

Chicago’s iconic natural history museum was established in 1894 as the Field Columbian Museum (following the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893). Today the Field welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors annually.

AFSCME is the largest union for cultural workers nationwide, including more than 10,000 museum workers at more than 90 cultural institutions in the public and private sectors, and more than 25,000 library workers at 275 public and private libraries.

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