April 18, 2024

Shedd Aquarium workers forming union with AFSCME

John G. Shedd Aquarium employees announced on April 18 they are forming their union, Shedd Workers United, with AFSCME Council 31.

The announcement came in a public letter signed by 60 workers. When certified, Shedd Workers United/AFSCME will represent about 300 employees across the aquarium, including throughout its departments of Animal Care, Learning & Community, Guest Relations, Facilities and more.

“We believe that by joining together in our union, we can truly have a voice to advocate for our own welfare and for the welfare of the animals that bring us together,” employees wrote.

“In recent years, we have voiced concerns to management regarding work-life imbalance, financial struggles, and lack of communication, but received little tangible response. Together in our union, we can bring to light and work to resolve these inequities in order to better our own lives and—very importantly—those of the animals we work to protect and uplift.”

The union’s logo—hand-drawn by a Shedd employee—features a beluga, a shark, a plankton and Neptune’s trident, the staff wielded by the mythical god of the sea, which tops the aquarium’s dome. 

Shedd workers invite the public to share their support for the union at

In forming their union, Shedd employees join workers from the Field Museum, Museum of Science & Industry, Notebaert Nature Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago who have all recently organized with AFSCME.

Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch called on Shedd management to “respect workers’ right to organize free from management interference.”

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