FAQ for New Unit Members

Welcome to The New Children’s Museum! As of October 2019, a majority of workers at the Museum are represented by IBEW Local 465 - and so are you! Because we know that you probably have some questions, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers. At the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of Museum workers who are on the bargaining committee that you can talk to for more info. Union Yes!

  • First, let us say that we love the Museum. We love the mission, the work, and the people we work with - but that doesn’t mean that it is without its challenges. Several floor staff members decided to explore unionization as a means to address shared issues: stagnant wages, high turnover, lack of transparency, and few opportunities for internal growth. Nothing seemed to change when these issues were brought to management, and the divide in understanding between the floor team and the highest levels grew wider. After many failed attempts to address these institutional problems, we decided that the most effective way to create a more sustainable and supportive workplace would be to join together as a collective group. We had heard about the growing movement of unionized museums and saw the chance to create true equity in our own. By unionizing, we have far more power to shape our workplace and our field than we do individually.

  • IBEW is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The local branch that we organized with, Local 465, represents the Linemen at SDG&E, the Imperial Irrigation District, San Diego Transit, NRG Energy and various tree trimming companies across San Diego and Imperial Counties.

  • IBEW Local 465 has a progressive organizer, Anabel Arauz, and business manager, Nate Fairman, many of whose values align with our core values. IBEW 465 is well known in San Diego as a strong and tight knit union in terms of their success in contract negotiations and with regards to their membership history.

  • There is no dedicated museum workers union. Most unionized museums are represented by a union that doesn’t seem like an obvious fit - for example, the New Museum in New York is represented by the United Automobile Workers union. Without a dedicated union for a particular group, any union can represent any group of workers (with some exceptions).

  • The union provides the necessary legal representation we need as workers to negotiate a fair contract. Through them, we are given access to lawyers who will represent us and provide the legal protection we need as workers. Unionizing also gives us direct control over and input in our working environment. Collectively we can effect institutional change that we otherwise would not not be able to make.

  • Yes! You are welcome to discuss the union and union activities while at the Museum, as long as it doesn’t interfere with scheduled work.

  • We are currently in negotiations with our management team as we work together to build a just and equitable contract for both parties. Our first negotiation session took place on January 7th, 2020 and we look forward to our upcoming sessions with upper management to continue the process to its completion. Once we reach an agreement on all substantive aspects of our contract it will be provided to the bargaining unit for review and a vote will be held to ratify the document. After the contract has been approved by the workers it will then supercede the most current edition of the employee handbook for all bargaining unit employees.

  • The members of a single union in a given workplace. A bargaining unit is formed when the majority of workers vote for unionization and receive certification from the National Labor Review Board. The bargaining unit can then negotiate contracts with management, collectively outlining terms that apply to the members of the unit. Certain types of workers are legally excluded from joining bargaining units, usually supervisors with hiring-firing abilities, security staff, and subcontracted staff. Many museums include some staff who belong to a bargaining unit ("are unionized") and others who are not. Generally, the larger and more comprehensive a bargaining unit is, the more power it has in negotiations with management. If a bargaining unit includes every eligible employee in a given institution, that is called a "wall-to-wall" bargaining unit. Those are rare as yet in museums. See Art + Museum Transparency’s Unions for All spreadsheet for more information!

  • Custodian, Maintenance Lead + Maintenance Technician, Graphic Designer, Playworkers + Senior Playworkers, Teaching Artists + Senior Teaching Artists, Visitor Services Associates + Senior Visitor Services Associates, Coordinators, Senior Coordinators, and Fabricators in the following departments: Community Programs, Development, Education, Events, Exhibitions, Marketing, Membership, Programs, and Visitor Services

  • CEO, CFO/COO, all Directors and Vice Presidents, Event Production Staff, Executive Assistant, Staff Accountant, Individual Giving & Stewardship Officer, Grant Writer, all Managers and Assistant Managers, Camp Counselors, and Security

  • Yes, if your position is in the bargaining unit. Our union is in the private sector, which means that you are unable to opt out while in a position represented by the union. Represented employees can always apply for unrepresented positions as they become available. If a represented employee fills an unpresented position, they are no longer a member of the union.

  • Not yet. We do not pay dues while we are negotiating our first contract. Once a contract is ratified - approved by a majority of the bargaining unit - members of the bargaining unit can expect to see 1% of each paycheck plus $19.35 per month taken out pretax for union dues. IBEW 465 has no initiation fees, meaning that you do not have to pay any additional fees beyond your regular dues once the contract is ratified. Wage increases are a top priority and we anticipate a net increase for all employees with dues factored in.

  • Union dues support the cost of maintaining a strong union - things like covering legal costs and staffing for negotiations or grievance proceedings, equipment, supplies, and union hall rent.

  • Not unless you want to! If your position is in the unit, then you are in the unit. Everyone is invited and encouraged to come to meetings and make their needs and voices heard. If you aren’t able to make it to meetings, you can talk to your team liaisons (see below). We want to ensure that our contract reflects the needs of all unit members.

  • You are welcome to ask anyone in the bargaining unit. However, as members of the bargaining committee, team liaisons will likely have the most information about where things stand right now. Liaisons for each group are: Facilities - Jill Grant; Teaching Artists - Cody Machado; Playworkers - Jill Grant and Hannah Mykel; Visitor Services Associates - Brittney DeVeau; Coordinators and other administrative positions - Alisa Miller. In solidarity, NCM Union <3

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