Collective Bargaining Legislation

Contact: Kat Cancio                                                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 1/17/23
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New legislation could give Walters Art Museum employees collective bargaining rights  

BALTIMORE - Maryland State Delegate Robbyn Lewis, who represents the 46th District, and Senator Jill Carter, who represents the 41st District are sponsoring legislation for the 2023 legislative session that would give employees at the Walters Art Museum collective bargaining rights and the ability to unionize. Walters Workers United (WWU), organizing with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), announced their unionization efforts in spring 2021, but because of intractable museum leadership and gaps in Maryland’s labor law, have been fighting for union recognition for nearly two years. This legislation creates a straightforward and efficient process by which workers at the Walters will be able to gain union recognition. 

House Bill 116 would amend Baltimore City’s Public Local Laws to provide collective bargaining rights to Walters’ employees. It would also allow workers to certify their union by verifying majority support through signed union cards or by secret ballot election, which would be overseen by a neutral third party. The legislation mirrors past legislation the Maryland General Assembly approved for the Baltimore County Public Library and the Baltimore City Police Department. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott wrote a letter in support of the legislation and included it in his list of 2023 Baltimore City Legislative Priorities.

I am sponsoring legislation to give employees of the Walters Art Museum a voice in their workplace.  Providing them collective bargaining rights will give them a much-needed voice - as it does for State employees, City employees, various library employees, and others who serve the cultural and educational needs of the public,” said Del. Robbyn Lewis. “Employees of the Walters, who are frontline stewards of the City's great art collection, deserve those same rights. As the granddaughter, daughter and sister of labor union members, I proudly stand for all working people, and look forward to helping the employees at the Walters Art Museum,” said Lewis.

“I have witnessed too many instances where my coworkers and I did not have a voice to share our concerns. This includes prior health and safety concerns and current concerns regarding diversity and inclusion. Over the past few years, Walters management has dissolved avenues to raise these issues like the DEAI Joint Working Group,” said Garrett Stralnic, who works as a security officer at the Walters Art Museum. “Our legislation will secure for us the collective bargaining rights we deserve,” said Stralnic.

Walters Workers United is seeking a safe and healthier workplace, pay equity, benefits for part-time employees, and stronger job security for all employees. Workers are also advocating for transparent communication and collaborative decision-making in order to create a culture of inclusion, equity, trust and accountability at the museum, according to the group’s mission statement.