Since its beginnings in 1983, The New Children’s Museum has inspired imagination and creativity in children and families across San Diego. Founded by educators who championed the importance of a community art space, the value they placed on creativity and play remains essential to the Museum’s growth and transformation as it responds to the needs of the public. The organization has evolved as a contemporary art museum that holds children and their supporting adults at the center of its mission. However, as the Museum serves more of these families each year, the demands on staff increase without equitable support.
We are at a turning point. This trajectory is no longer sustainable without necessary changes that allows staff to grow alongside the Museum. We are forming The New Children’s Museum Union (NCMU of IBEW Local 465) to advocate for this change to ensure the continuation of the mission that we care so deeply about.
The success of the Museum relies on a skilled and specialized staff. We are the foundation of the Museum experience. As workers, we think, play, create, teach, advocate, adapt, and embody the Museum’s mission. Our commitment transforms a building and resources into the progressive art space envisioned by early Museum leaders. Because each worker plays a vital role in achieving our collective goals, a Museum-wide union is essential to the long-term sustainability and growth of our institution.
Our priorities are simple. We ask for equitable and proactive pay practices, a greater voice in visioning, and increased transparency. Though wages are not the only goal of this union, they are the most urgent need. Since reopening as The New Children’s Museum in 2008, wages have only increased by a few dollars and fall increasingly short of a living wage for the majority of the staff, leaving many workers to choose between a career they love and one which provides financial security. Current hiring, staffing, and pay practices have not kept pace with the expanding goals and reach of the Museum, resulting in an inability to retain essential staff. This high rate of turnover requires constant hiring and training of new staff members. As a result, we retread the same ground again and again instead of moving the Museum forward together.
We are at a critical point in the Museum’s history. We must do better for each other. By forming The New Children’s Museum Union, we can redefine what is possible for our community, our staff, and the museum field as a whole. We trust that the Museum will reaffirm its commitment to the innovative and progressive culture that made it a competitive place to work a decade ago.
We believe in the mission of The New Children’s Museum, and we expect that our management and the Board will negotiate with us in good faith to achieve our common goals.