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The union difference shines through at the negotiating table

Photo: Douglas Rissing/ Getty Images
The union difference shines through at the negotiating table
By AFSCME Staff ·

The union difference is real and it improves the lives of working people every day. The union difference also shines through when workers negotiate their first contract – as workers at the Baltimore Museum of Art are finding out.

As Leila Grothe, an assistant curator of contemporary art at BMA explained in a recent episode of the America’s Work Force Union Podcast, having professional negotiating and communications help from AFSCME is making a huge difference to museum workers who never had a contract before and are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the intricate bargaining process.

“I have had a front row seat to see exactly what AFSCME does for us. It’s astounding. … We have many contacts with the union that we can reach out to … if we suspect an unfair labor practice is taking place, we have someone we can reach out to to register a grievance, someone with a lot more knowledge and experience. … That alone is an avenue of reporting that we simply never had before. So that alone is huge,” Grothe said.

“We have lawyers, we have staff. Our chief negotiator … has 35 years of negotiating experience. He has seen so many contracts, from not just the cultural sector, but other sectors are well,” Grothe said. “To have these experts … it provides so much comfort and so much support. And then there’s things like graphic design and social media. We have people dedicated to making sure that we look good, we look professional, and that our message is getting out. … They do so much for us it’s amazing.”

Formed last year, the Baltimore Museum of Art Union includes about 140 workers. It’s a “wall-to-wall” union, meaning it covers all workers for the landmark institution, not just some workers in some departments.

Through its Cultural Workers United campaign, AFSCME represents more cultural workers than any other union — 35,000 across the country. That includes 10,000 museum workers at 100 cultural institutions in the public and private sectors, and more than 25,000 library workers at 275 public and private libraries.

Hear the Interview

Listen to the full interview with BMA’s Leila Grothe here or download the Oct. 19 episode wherever you listen to podcasts.

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