YouTube video

In this video installment of Battleground Baltimore, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez sits down with Laura Albans and Matt Papich, two workers at the renowned Baltimore Museum of Art who are involved in a crucial unionization effort that is currently taking place at the museum. From security guards and visitor services to art installers and curators, workers across departments are fighting to form a “wall-to-wall” union with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 67. After officially announcing their unionization effort in late September, BMA workers have joined a broader surge in labor organizing at cultural institutions around the country, including at the nearby Walters Museum in Baltimore. According to the union’s mission statement, “We, the BMA staff, are part of the wave of change that is happening at cultural institutions around the country. By forming a union, we will champion better working conditions for all employees and create a positive cultural shift throughout the institution and the Baltimore community.”

In this interview, Alvarez talks with Albans and Papich about the work they do, how the unionization drive developed, and where things currently stand between workers and museum leadership. Laura Albans is a curatorial research associate who has worked at the BMA for nearly two decades; Matt Papich works in the exhibitions design and installation department and has been with the museum for 15 years.

Pre-Production/Studio/Post-Production: Cameron Granadino


Maximillian Alvarez:    This is Maximillian Alvarez, editor-in-chief at The Real News Network, reporting from The Real News studio here in Baltimore. If you frequent The Real News website, then you know that our ongoing series Battleground Baltimore is devoted to lifting up the lives and struggles and investigating the stories that matter to everyday people here in the city that we call home.

As part of that ongoing mission, I recently got to sit down with Laura Albans and Matt Papich, two workers at the renowned Baltimore Museum of Art, who are involved in a crucial unionization effort that is taking place at the BMA as we speak. Workers across departments are fighting to form a wall-to-wall union with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Just from talking to Matt, Laura, and others at the museum, it’s abundantly clear that they deeply love their work and their coworkers. But they believe that organizing in a union will give workers power to improve their working conditions and their pay, to help the museum attract and retain talented staff, and to ensure that workers have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made.

Matt Papich:          I’m Matt Papich. I’m an exhibition coordinator at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I’m also on the organizing committee for the BMA union, and I’ve worked at the BMA for nearly 15 years through a few departments.

Laura Albans:       I’m Laura Albans. I’m an assistant curator for European painting and sculpture. I have been with the BMA for 19 years. And I came in in a very odd way, where I was hired to work for two departments as a full-time employee, but each department I was to work part-time. That was conservation in European, well, painting and sculpture at that time. And they were, at the time in 2002, the two busiest departments. And I was part-time for each.

Maximillian Alvarez:     Well, Matt, Laura, thank you both so much for sitting down and chatting with me today. I really appreciate it. I know that you guys got a lot going on right now with the unionization effort at the Baltimore Museum of Art, which is right down the road from us. And that’s really what we’re here to talk about today for The Real News Network as part of our ongoing series Battleground Baltimore, where we want to get to know more about the people, lives, struggles, and stories happening here in our hometown.

And what you all are going through is really important. And people not only in Baltimore, but around the country need to know about it. And so again, I’m just really grateful to you both for taking time to sit down and chat with me. And we’re going to talk all about the unionization effort here at the BMA and your involvement with it.

But as Real News viewers know, we really try to center the human beings and human faces behind these struggles. And frankly, I think a lot of folks at work sites like museums are… People probably don’t know a lot about what happens at museums, the kind of labor that you do, the different kinds of people who are working at a place like the BMA.

So, I was wondering if we could maybe start by digging into y’all’s back story, and if you could expand, Laura, like on how you came to do that work, if you fell into it or if it was something you always wanted to do. And also, I guess maybe give folks just a bit of a sense of yourself and the kind of work that you do at the BMA.

Laura Albans:         Oh, sure. So, I came to the BMA in 2002 after moving to Baltimore in 1996. And I moved to Baltimore as a single mom with $400 in my pocket, thinking I’m moving to the big city and I will have access to museums and culture. And I will find a job at the BMA, or the Walters, or the City Arts Museum, which was down in like Little Italy and is defunct. And it became defunct within months of my arrival.

Maximillian Alvarez:     The two were presumably unconnected.

Laura Albans:       Yes. That is my hope. So, I have a degree in art history, a bachelor’s degree, and I came from Maine. And it took me about six years to get the job at the BMA. I didn’t constantly apply. I only applied one time before the job… I got sidetracked. But I always wanted to work in a museum. And so the opportunity arose, and I felt like it was the greatest opportunity to be working for a curatorial department and a conservation department.

I had worked in the same situation before in other jobs. So, I used to be able to multitask. And I really took the bull by the horns and worked passionately. And it wasn’t until 2017, ’16. In 2017, I got a promotion for the first time at the BMA to assistant curator. However, I didn’t get a raise with it, and I have really never received a raise based on my stellar performance reviews, and my dedication, and my longevity at the museum.

I still love working for the museum. I think it’s the people and the art that really keeps me invested. And the health insurance is fantastic, and we’re pretty easy going people. And we’re able to take some emergency time off if and when needed.

So there are some really great benefits. But I’m struggling with it, seeing this new generation is really into not taking it anymore. I’m from the 1980s, and we are not going to take it. Twisted Sister did not really fly with all of us, we kind of took it, and we still are taking it. But the younger generation is not. Like thinking of the Me Too movement, and now the BMA organizing, and other museums in this city and across the country are organizing, I’m so excited. I’m thrilled.

Maximillian Alvarez:     Hell yeah. And just to underline that in red pen for folks. So you’ve been working at the BMA, so that would make what? Over 15 –

Laura Albans:      19 years.

Maximillian Alvarez:    19 years now. You got a title promotion, but as of yet, have not received a bump in pay –

Laura Albans:       Correct.

Maximillian Alvarez:  …Even while the cost of living has gone up. Right now as we speak, everyone’s freaking out about inflation. So that’s something really to underscore for folks who I imagine will have a lot to relate to there.

Laura Albans:     Yeah. And when I came to Baltimore, rent was about $500 for a row house. My health insurance at the BMA when I first started was $25 a pay period for mother and child. I am, thankfully, now have a partner and we live together, we’re married. We share the same income. He makes more than I do, but I would not be able to do this job. My health insurance, I had to change from Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO to an Aetna HMO, because the Blue Cross Blue Shield is now over $200 a pay period, and my Aetna is just over $50 to $60 a pay period.

Aetna is now fantastic, I have no problems with it. And now I see rents that are over $2,000, and I do not know how a single person could possibly pay that on my salary. I’m making less than $15,000 from when I first started at the BMA. It’s a little embarrassing.

Maximillian Alvarez:  I mean, but that’s how we’re taught to feel about it, right? Is like we take that on as a personal failure.

Laura Albans:       Totally.

Maximillian Alvarez:     It’s not your goddamn failure, right?

Laura Albans:         I know.

Maximillian Alvarez:     I mean, this is what, in many ways, the unionization effort is about. This is what workers around the country are raising a stink about, is we’ve been doing our part. We’ve been working. We’ve weathered a global financial meltdown, a global pandemic, political turmoil. Throughout all of it, workers have kept doing their jobs, but have not seen the increases in wages to keep up with the cost of living.

And I mean, I empathize deeply with you. It’s something that I felt very much myself, my family has. And all the workers that I’ve talked to have felt the same way. And it’s very painful. And I’m sorry you’ve gone through that. And Matt, I wanted to bring you in here and ask if you could tell us a bit more about yourself as well, and how you got into working at the BMA, what it’s been like for you over the past, over that time.

Matt Papich:         Sure. Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with colleagues during this time have been with people who are in supervising positions, and have maybe worked here for a long time, and perhaps bought their houses in the ’80s.

I was revealing to them, to hear a perspective like mine, where I’m saying we don’t have access to the same things that you did. And the institution is moving too slowly to increase our salaries, to keep us not just in a cost of living way, but to match the gains and the lifestyles of the people that worked there before us. So, I like that you told that story, Laura.

Laura Albans:     Thanks.

Matt Papich:           I think that not enough people know this sometimes. And I was happy to hear that. I’ve worked at the BMA for like 15 years, mostly just right out of college, around 2006. And I got into preparator work/art handling work, which is really in gallery construction, all of the work that happens before an exhibition and after an exhibition. And like many people that do that work, I was on a part-time, not even a contract basis. Just a phone call a few weeks here, a few weeks there.

And like everyone that does that work that way, you get other gigs at the other museums. I would work at the Walters. I would work for the other art handling companies here and in DC. I would work at [MoCA]. So many of my peers at that time had to do that, jump around town and find work when you can.

I wanted to work more full-time, and of course, I wanted to reap the benefits that you get from having a salary, and having sick days and things like that, for a long time. But there’s definitely a culture at this institution, and at most museums, to rely on part-time contract labor for the installation of artworks, and you can just get stuck in that loop for a long time. Eventually I did land a full-time position as a preparator, and since then have switched departments essentially to become an exhibition coordinator a little bit more behind the scenes.

One of the things that I feel like was good about taking that path through the institution is, you get to work with many of the departments. I worked closely with curators as an art handler, and you get to build up relationships with people that are really some of the conceptual, like movers and shakers at the museum.

Maximillian Alvarez:  I think that’s a really important point for us to drill down on. Because it’s not only important for people to understand the unionization effort that you all are involved in at BMA. Because one really important facet of that effort is that you all are working to organize a wall-to-wall union that would include all of the eligible employees at the BMA. And we’ll talk about that in a minute.

But also, I mean, we’re in the midst of what many around the country are sensing is a slightly increased wave of worker militancy. There are a number of strikes happening as we speak, including workers in healthcare, coal mining, John Deere, Kellogg’s. So there are strikes happening, but there are also record numbers of American workers quitting their jobs voluntarily.

So something is happening amongst the American workforce. But yeah, I think that it’s probably easier for folks around the country to conceptualize that when they look at maybe like a manufacturing facility, or something like that. But the thing is, is that a lot of what workers in other industries are going through is happening in workplaces across different sectors. And one area that was always close to home for me was in academia.

So when people think of academia, including myself and my family – It’s one of the reasons I tried to make a career there at one point – You think like, oh man, beautiful campuses, you get to do what you love, you get to teach, you get to research, you get to be part of this great community, and you get to make a decent living. Because that’s the image of academia and academic work that we’ve always had in our culture.

What I realized very quickly was, wow man, this isn’t what I thought at all. The vast majority of people doing the work at universities are contracted adjunct teachers, underpaid graduate students, student workers. Facilities workers have been subcontracted out in campuses around the country. So you start to realize once you’re in there, it’s like, man, people think that everyone who works here is very privileged and very lucky, and they have a very vanilla picture in their head of who works there, but it’s actually way more diverse. And the labor conditions are not what people tend to think when they think about universities.

I make that analogy by way of asking if we could drill down on the BMA and museum workers. If you could tell us a bit more about what your typical week looks like, the kind of work that you do. I guess during the pandemic that’s all been thrown up in the air, but humor me and maybe tell us a little bit about what a typical week looks like for you. But also if you could give us a sense of, I guess, the diversity of people working at the BMA and the kinds of jobs that the folks do.

Matt Papich:          Sure. Let me just first say, I agree with the analogy, with academia. And I find to this day that there’s a conflation of the wealth of a collection that gets applied to what people think the employees at that institution must also… Like it would trickle down or something.

Maximillian Alvarez:     Yeah. [crosstalk] Because the painting is worth like millions of dollars, you must be rolling in, right?

Matt Papich:          Right. And I understand making that kind of equation, but it’s certainly not true. And so, the types of work at the museum, oh my God, it’s complex. I guess I’ll start thinking about front of house, because I think that’s who visitors are the most familiar with, and that’s people that would greet you at the front desk, visitor services, security officers, people that you would interact with in an educational type of way. Those jobs are actually really complex and hold a lot more than I think the average visitor sees.

Security officers have a lot of responsibilities, both in guarding the artwork, but also in managing the building and the experience of the building for visitors. And that got turned up since the pandemic, when managing flows of people and mask wearing became a whole addition to the job that I’m sure was awful. I think the front of house visitor services people would probably say the same, the new system of having to hold reservations, et cetera, has been a whole other layer onto everyone’s work life in those departments, I think.

I’ve always worked more behind the scenes. I talked about working in installation. Our closest colleagues are probably registrars, who in a way are the librarians for the collection, for the actual art objects. They’re responsible for so much of the movement of the objects, but also the tracking of the objects. Not just where they are, but all of the information that gets associated with a painting. And keeping that up to date as it changes. They also deal with organizing all of the shipments for traveling shows, and organizing the way that artworks come in and out of the museum. It’s a really cool type of person. I wish I could describe them.

Maximillian Alvarez:  I mean, I’m very fascinated because I’m just like, how do you do it? Because I would be scared shitless to handle any of it. I guess just, we don’t have to go deep into it, but I imagine it’s just like there’s so much technical skill and care, that is probably just second nature to folks like yourself now, but I would be deathly afraid of going near any of it.

Laura Albans:       I think you have to be a little bit of a control freak to be a registrar.

Matt Papich:            Yeah. I mean you’re like, you know where it’s all at.

Laura Albans:            Yeah. And you have to have some organization in your brain. Not just organizational skills, but it’s like the elite of the elite organization.

Matt Papich:           Conservation department, who I think people often know what conservation means in general. That department in our museum is relatively large and broken up by type of objects. So people who are experts in paintings, who are experts in paper or frames, or experts in objects and certain types of materials. Beyond preparing artworks for display, they’re always a part of much of the movement of artworks that happen, but also an ongoing process of trying to photograph our collection, which is a massive feat, and leads me to talk about the whole photography department. There’s an onsite photographer, there’s assistants for the photographer that manages image rights and licensing of images. Who am I skipping?

Laura Albans:       Well, it’s so complex. Curators.

Matt Papich:            Oh my God. Right.

Laura Albans:            Curator does mean to care for the collection. And they are definitely stewards. They aren’t just about putting the objects up on the wall to do an exhibition or to do research, but they work hand in hand with conservation to ensure that a painting, a sculpture, a piece of furniture, or a decorative art is definitely carried forth throughout its lifetime at the museum, whether it’s in storage, traveling, or in the galleries. Then of course, they are the unsung heroes in development –

Matt Papich:             Oh, absolutely.

Laura Albans:       …Who will have to do the fundraising, and raising funds for salaries is not sexy. It doesn’t come with a title. You don’t get to put your name on it. We’re not a building. So that is really difficult for them. And in finance, juggling the books. Not saying they’re cooking, but they’re juggling. But what I do –

Matt Papich:        And our interpretation department who does really excellent work to explain things in a way that makes it pointed even more towards a visitor experience.

Laura Albans:        I do think they do a great job. I’m really glad that you brought up privilege. Definitely it is seen, I think, from a lot of people on the outside that it is a place of privilege to work. I didn’t realize what privilege was there at the museum. In 2002, it was a little different than it is today. In 2002, we were dealing with… Some staff had been there for generations, or working along the old line of the men put together the institution, and their wives needed something to do, so they could volunteer at the institution. I think that that is still looked at as how a museum is run today, because it’s a struggle to get our pay up there, and we’re not volunteers anymore. We’re not ladies who lunch.

And it blew my mind when I first started working there, I really felt out of my element. I was a single mother. And I remember talking to some people at lunch, and they were talking about traveling abroad. And they turned to me and said, oh, you know what it was when you traveled abroad in school. And I’m like, what? And they’re like, oh, you went to Paris. No, I didn’t. I paid my own way through school, and I was also a single mother when I was in college. So, I did not have that opportunity or luxury. That is a privilege.

And then I realized I was definitely out of my element working at the BMA. But then I discovered Adelyn Breeskin, the BMA’s first paid curator of prints, and then the museum’s director from 1942 to 1962. And she came from a wealthy family, but she did not have wealth herself, and a divorcee of three needing to raise her children. And she would be here. I swear, she’s right by our side, telling us to fight the good fight, because she saw the privilege that was the museum culture. And it needs to stop.

Well, and let’s build on that by way of walking viewers through the unionization effort. Because we mentioned all of the other vital labor struggles that are happening around the country, no two are exactly alike. There are obviously a lot of things that workers across different industries are feeling together, like rising cost of living. We’ve gone the longest period in American history without raising the federal minimum wage. We all went through a pandemic, yada, yada, yada. You get the point.

But I think that we still have a long way to go when it comes to educating ourselves as a public on the different variations of labor struggle. Some are very in your face where you’ve got police and scab workers, and it gets very heated on the picket line, like over at Warrior Met Coal in Alabama. But then there are also instances in, I don’t know what you would call it, cultural workplaces, white collar workplaces, and office buildings and such, where the struggle looks quite different. And maybe the demands are different, but the efforts to organize still have a lot of important weight for workers who want to improve their working conditions, and lock in the conditions that they like and deserve with a union contract.

So that’s by way of giving us a transition to talk about where the unionization effort came from. Like you guys have both said a bit about the joys of working at the BMA, but also the struggles of making a living, and keeping up with all the different tasks that you’re doing. That presumably was accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is when I believe the talk of a union really started in earnest. So I guess, could you walk us through the unionization effort, how it got started, and what sorts of key issues viewers need to understand about the campaign and what you all are fighting for?

Matt Papich:          Sure. You’re exactly right that it did begin or it was triggered in some way around the pandemic. My understanding is it was born out of conversations mostly within our security department, who stands to maybe benefit the most from a unionization effort. That department had so many concerns about working during the initial summer when so much was unknown and there were no vaccines, and felt that their voices weren’t fully heard. And I think that’s around when I first started to hear talk of unionizing.

Again, it’s something that my colleagues in installation had talked about in the past, but never acted on it. And I’m sure other departments have as well. So, I was so happy to hear this. And I think we’re spread in some ways from security and visitor services outward. Initially conversations, I think, were mostly about working conditions, salaries, et cetera. But as we started to meet and form an organizing committee, we also realized that so many of the things that we want to, like you said, lock in as a union, beyond salaries, but also equity, chances for advancement. All of those things are so aligned with the museum’s mission, we felt like it’s time for us to also have a say in that, and make the museum’s mission ours as well.

Matt Papich:         We feel like we’re on the same page, but we can go a step further. Since then, this is maybe mid… When did I start coming to meetings? Like mid-summer or something?

Laura Albans:        Yeah. I think you were probably July, August.

Matt Papich:            Right. So since then, things really picked up. We have so many people on board. It’s definitely wall-to-wall, people from every department are interested, are involved. And the organizing committee has been meeting mostly once a week, and advancing things as we can. At the moment, we’re in this position where we’re asking for our city election, we know that it can happen, and we just need to be allowed to let that happen. And I think it will soon.

Laura Albans:         Yeah. As we’re special employees of the city, so I’m confident the city is incredibly supportive of BMA colleagues. We just need our director and the board to back us up and say, yeah, they are legally allowed to do it, so let them do it. And that’s what we’re waiting on now.

Matt Papich:            And some of us have spoken directly to our director, you were there.

Laura Albans:       Yes. I was there. Yeah. We asked him to publicly acknowledge us. First we did that when we went public through an email, and that was just near the end of September. The BMA union sent him an email, letting him know that we are planning on, not planning.

Matt Papich:             We are doing this.

Laura Albans:         We’re forming this union, and we do want it wall-to-wall. And we would love him to publicly acknowledge us, and just say, without having to go to vote and make it easier for everyone. He did not immediately, with our email, so we did ask to meet with him. About 10 of us in the organizing committee met with him and our chief operating officer. And we told them our personal stories, and why it’s really important we unionize, and the equity. And his initiative of DAIE. Diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity. Did I get them all?

Matt Papich:            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Laura Albans:           Really aligns with how we all feel. At the BMA, we do not have a road to advancement, and it’s either do your job or you get another job and leave. We’ve lost so many people to the National Gallery in DC. I don’t want to lose any more colleagues.

Matt Papich:          I agree.

Laura Albans:          And we’re losing a lot of institutional knowledge when we do leave colleagues. I mean, we have a handful of people who’ve been there for probably 15 plus years, and losing any of that information will have dire consequences on the institution.

Laura Albans:          And yeah, I’ve been there 19 years, so I know what benefits we’ve lost. And the young crowd doesn’t know what we’ve lost. Like we’ve lost a pension. Baltimore city took the pension plan away from, I think, regular employees. I think pension plans stayed with the Baltimore police department and the fire department, maybe teachers as well. But for all other employees of the city, they lost their pension, which is like such an old time school thing that companies don’t offer that. You have to sign into the 403(b) and put your own money into it with the hopes that your company will match. And the BMA did match 1%, until… Oh, when were the layoffs?

Matt Papich:        I worked there then, it was like around the financial crisis in 2009.

Laura Albans:         Yeah. So we had layoffs. And at that time they also took away our pension. I mean our 403(b) match, it has now just been reinstated to 3%, but it’s still not enough for people to build a life at retirement even.

Matt Papich:          Well, and the other thing I feel like, to just piggyback on that is, there’s some excellent promises, but what we’re looking for is commitments. And we feel like unionizing is the real way to lock some of these things in, and make sure that we at least have the kind of benefit structure that we have now, but will get better.

And like I just said, I worked there through resignations during the financial crisis. There can be a feeling after something like that where people just don’t want to rock the boat and they’re happy to keep what they have. And I just feel like… Not only at our institution, but clearly at many others, that time is coming to an end and people are ready to ask for what they deserve again.

Laura Albans:          We’re all still hurting from those layoffs, actually.

Matt Papich:           Definitely.

Laura Albans:         Those who are there, and yeah, it definitely stings. And yeah, locking in those benefits and getting more back. Parking, little things.

Maximillian Alvarez:  Yeah. It’s not fun to park in this city.

Laura Albans:           No. And around here you have to pay for parking, and it’s every two hours. And we used to have a really great designated parking, and we still have some of it, but it’s not enough. Our staff is growing. With Bedford’s vision, we’re getting more staff. We still need more staff, we’re still an understaffed museum in so many departments, but I will give Bedford definitely credit for bringing on more staff to installation and registration. But he’s also brought on a lot more work. And our work isn’t always a 9:00 to 5:00 job.

During the pandemic, I had an exhibition I had to organize with the museum closed, oh, with all museums closed, and libraries. And I had to do all this research and be sure that I was making my exhibition not just look great, but with the proper, with concrete information. It was incredibly stressful. And working from home was a great benefit, but I worked from home anywhere between 8:00 AM and 2:00 AM. So our work isn’t a 9:00 to 5:00 job.

Maximillian Alvarez:   Right. And I mean, just to, again, really, I suppose, emphasize for folks watching. 2008 is a perfect example. That again, I think a lot of us can identify with. The point isn’t that every workplace is awful and every boss is out to squash every worker for as much as they’re worth. I obviously have my own thoughts about a lot of that, but I mean, there’s a lot more nuance there. And even if you are working at a place where you love the work that you do, and where you… With workers’ vision for what that workplace should be aligns with the mission of the institution itself, as you both said that the BMA union’s mission aligns with the mission of the BMA. That’s great.

It’s that variability. It’s that lack of assurance that this is not going to change. Like if something unexpected happens, and we’ve been living through quite a lot of unexpected things. Financial meltdown, Donald Trump getting elected president, global pandemic. Life comes at you fast, as the great man once said. And if workers are going to weather that and continue doing the work that makes a place like the BMA so special, you want assurance that those things are going to be there, and not going to change if there’s a change in leadership, or something unexpected happens and you’re caught flat footed.

So I just wanted to really underline that for folks watching. And I could talk to you both about this for days, but I know as we said at the beginning, you got a lot going on and I can’t keep you much longer. So I wanted to, by way of rounding us out, ask if you could talk a bit about where things stand now. If you could say a bit more about what the response from the leadership at BMA has been, and what folks watching around Baltimore and beyond can do to show solidarity.

Matt Papich:       Definitely. As Laura mentioned, we put forward the idea to be voluntarily recognized, and we’re not. And at this point, we’re asking to have a city-led election to recognize our union. Since putting that out there, there’s been a few info sessions run by management to help answer questions, and hear mostly questions from staff. And they’ve been small sessions, limited amounts of people. And mostly from my reads from people, they’ve been leaving people more confused than assured.

As the organizing committee, we’ve been trying to message to anyone, come to us with questions. We can answer it for you. And if we don’t know the answer, we’re here to find it with you. I think that we’re in a little bit of a moment where things are being made to seem more complicated and confusing than they are. But from my perspective, it’s really simple. The city can run the vote, and we’ll win that vote, and we’ll have our union.

Laura Albans:        Yeah. What you have said was the nail on the head, everything. And I also believe what our union will do for our museum will help administration as well. One of the things we really would love to see is accountability, but I do feel for some of our managers. They are put into positions where they’ve been at the BMA for X amount of time, and oh, let’s promote them. And they’re ready for the promotion, for sure. But they aren’t necessarily given the tools and the information with that promotion of management.

And I strongly feel that this union will actually bring solidarity to management and to their subordinates, and give management a direction, like a roadmap to how to advance the museum inside. We’re working diligently within the galleries and outside of the museum for our visitors. And I really honestly believe this union will bring unity to all the colleagues. Not just those who need the union desperately, but to the management, who I actually think really needs our union desperately as well. Yeah.

Matt Papich:        Institutionally, we do so much investing in the future of the institution and thinking about what it will look like. But sometimes I think we forget that we need to do the same amount of thinking and investment in the staff, and what that will look like, and how that will grow in the same way. That’s what the union’s going to do. We’re here, our role is to guarantee that there’s always that connection between what the institution is planning, and how it’s growing, and how we’re all going to grow at the same time.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Ten years ago, I was working 12-hour days as a warehouse temp in Southern California while my family, like millions of others, struggled to stay afloat in the wake of the Great Recession. Eventually, we lost everything, including the house I grew up in. It was in the years that followed, when hope seemed irrevocably lost and help from above seemed impossibly absent, that I realized the life-saving importance of everyday workers coming together, sharing our stories, showing our scars, and reminding one another that we are not alone. Since then, from starting the podcast Working People—where I interview workers about their lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles—to working as Associate Editor at the Chronicle Review and now as Editor-in-Chief at The Real News Network, I have dedicated my life to lifting up the voices and honoring the humanity of our fellow workers.
Follow: @maximillian_alv