Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we forming our union at the Walters?

We are organizing our union at the Walters to establish a strong voice for all Walters’ employees to advocate for ourselves, our professions, and our museum. Our union will enable us to address important concerns like pay, benefits, workplace equity and greater transparency from our museum’s administration. Through a legally binding contract we will be able to negotiate over our priorities with management to make the museum the best it can be for employees, visitors, and the community.

Who and what is a union?

We are the union. We made the decision to form our union; we will decide what priorities to negotiate for; and we will elect our own leadership to uphold and enforce the contract. A union is a group of workers coming together to make real change in their workplace regarding their wages, benefits and working conditions.

Who is AFSCME?

AFSCME is a union of 1.4 million members. These members have our back and will support us, along with resources like experienced negotiators, educators, attorneys, and researchers. AFSCME also represents over 35,000 other cultural workers. Learn more at www.culturalworkersunited.org.

What does the process of organizing a union look like? How long will it take?

We are counting on all of our coworkers to sign a union card. Upon recognition of our union either voluntarily or through a secret ballot election, we will sit down with management and negotiate a contract that reflects our priorities. The process will go as quickly as we move it.

The union is a group of outsiders that will get between management and staff and make our jobs harder.

With Cultural Workers United-AFSCME, WE are the union. We vote to form our union. We will elect our own leadership, including a bargaining team. We set the priorities we negotiate for in our contract, and We vote to accept it. We will work together with CWU-AFSCME's professional staff negotiators, attorneys, and labor economists to help achieve our goals. With CWU-AFSCME, we will have the tools and leverage to forge a productive partnership with management based on mutual respect.

Management is finally listening and says they are going to fix things. I think we should give them a chance.

It’s great that management is finally hearing us, and if they are sincere about making change, it shouldn’t be an issue to sit down with us, negotiate improvements and put them into a contract. Our union will help create policies and initiatives created by coworkers and for coworkers. We are the experts of what we need and should help determine the policies that impact us most.

How might management respond?

We can’t control how management will respond. We can only control our own actions. We have the legal right to form a union. The more of us who are openly in solidarity with each other, the safer we all are. Your voice will make a difference.

Know that if you do decide to be public or sign a union card, retaliation by supervisors is absolutely illegal. It is against the law for your manager or any other member of leadership to:

  • Demand you tell them how you are voting
  • Threaten to fire you if you vote yes
  • Offer you rewards to vote no
  • Otherwise retaliate in any way
  • Intimidate, coerce, and otherwise influence

If any of these things is happening to you or a coworker, please report such activity to [email protected].  

I have a good relationship with my supervisor...

That’s great. Many of us do have good relationships with our supervisors, but this isn’t about them. This is about us having a voice. Supervisors change and are limited in what they can do for employees. When we form our union, policies will be clearer and more consistent, which will actually make our supervisor’s job more defined and our relationship even better.

Will we lose our flexibility with the union?

I hear you, and I don’t want to lose the flexibility some of us have, either. It is illegal for the Walters to make any changes to the terms and condition of our working conditions in retaliation for forming our union. In reality, management could take away that flexibility at any time if we don’t have our union. We should secure flexible scheduling in a contract.

How will forming our union affect our benefits?

Once we form our union, it is illegal for management to make any changes to our benefits without negotiating with our elected bargaining team. We start with what we have and negotiate improvements. Without a union, management can change our benefits at any time.

I don’t want to/can’t afford to pay dues.

Nobody will pay dues until we vote for a contract that we have negotiated and it becomes effective. Dues will be approximately $19 biweekly for full time employees and $14 for part-time employees. Why would we vote for a contract that isn’t worth our dues? Who would vote for a contract that isn’t worth our dues?

Will we have to go on strike if we form our union?

Strikes are rare. 98% of contracts are settled without going on strike. Only we can decide if we strike, and even then, a strong majority of us would have to vote to do so. Management can’t make us strike; the union can’t make us; only we can make that decision.

I want to know more about the union. Who can help me?

Email us at [email protected] to set up a time to talk with a Walters Workers United union organizer one-on-one.