The employee union at the Art Institute of Chicago has secured a contract with the museum, assuring “across the board” wage increases.
For more than a year, the Art Institute of Chicago Workers United (AICWU), which comprises over 500 employees, has been in negotiations with the museum and the art school, the School of Art Institute of Chicago, which comes under it. As the negotiations approached the 1-year mark, the union started planning for a strike. However, just as the strike began, the museum officials presented a contract to the union bargaining committee.
Most notably, all employees, across the museum and the school, would get guaranteed wage increases over the period of the next 4 years. For employees currently making minimum wage, the increment could be as high as 16.25 percent. But beyond wages, the bargaining committee also succeeded in securing a number of additional rights and resolving “cultural issues” at the museum.
Some of the new rights include bilingual work, ratification bonus, and yearly performance bonus. All new job positions must be first made open to the employees, and qualified candidates must be guaranteed an interview. The contract was signed by the employees with overwhelming support. However, the Art Institute of Chicago has yet to release a statement regarding the contract.
Kyla Thomas (member of the union bargaining committee) said: “In the past, [the disrespect by managers] led to people either suffering in silence or simply leaving for other job opportunities. Now we have a way to say, ‘Hey, you can’t do this to me. There will be a union rep. by your side in all disciplinary meetings. That’s going to be a huge culture shift.”