BALTIMORE — The Walters Art Museum is one of the big attractions in Baltimore because of its free admission and exciting exhibits.
On Thursday, the workers frustration was on display as they were rallying outside to raise awareness about their attempt to unionize.
Gregory Bailey said he loves what he does.
“The Walters is what brought me to Baltimore,” said Bailey. “I truly believe that by coming together we can help the museum achieve its vision and it’s mission to be a transformative force for good in Baltimore.”
They were rallying because they don’t feel appreciated and want to unionize.
“There are disparities in pay particularly across seniority as well,” Bailey said. “There are also differential access to benefits which is very important. Particularly part time workers do not have access to benefits despite the fact that we are all city workers.”
The Walters Art Museum usually closes its doors at 8pm. On Thursday a spokesperson told me they shut them at 5 o'clock so employees could come out for this protest.
That spokesperson said they support the workers attempt to form a union and haven’t done anything to deter them from that.
A spokesperson directed me to a board of Directors message posted on June 3.
In it they explain why they won’t use a process called voluntarily recognition to unionize the workers.
“Put simply: I believe it is every employee’s responsibility to determine for themselves whether they want to unionize—and the best way to do that is through a confidential vote administered by the National Labor Relations Board. If the Walters leadership voluntarily recognizes the union, it would revoke employees’ legal right to vote on unionization and undermine that core democratic principle.”
Allison Gulick, an employee and leader of Walters Workers United said they don’t intend to go through the National Labor Board.
“The National Labor Board is known to divide wall to wall Unions,” said Gulick. “A wall to wall union is a union that includes security staff as well General museum staff and that’s really what we’re looking to create.”
The workers at this rally are looking to go around the labor board and go through the city.
The museum is a quasi city agency- meaning they get millions of tax dollars in funding
“There are other quasi city agencies like the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the BMA that already have collective bargaining rights through the city,” Gulick said. “We want to be included in that.”
The next step for the Walters Workers United is to secure a hearing with Baltimore City Council in an attempt to amend city code so they can be included in the Collective Bargaining agreement.
To read the full statement from the museums executive board click here.