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Frye Art Museum Security Workers Vote Unanimously to Form Union

The Frye Art Museum.

COURTESY FRYE ART MUSEUM

Another union has officially been formed at a North American art museum.

On Tuesday, security workers at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle voted unanimously to unionize. The vote to form the union, which is called the Art Workers Union, was 6-0, according to a release put out by the AWU. The newly formed union is the first group of its kind at an art institution in Seattle.

In a statement, Caitlin Lee, a security guard at the Frye said, “This is a victory for security guards here at the Frye. We urge management to work with us and bargain in good faith so that we can make the museum a stronger institution where workers have a seat at the table and a voice on the job.”

“As all eligible staff have now had their chance to formally vote, the Frye respects the results of the election and recognizes our security staff’s right to collectively bargain as the Art Workers Union,” a representative for the museum said in a statement. “We look forward to a productive discussion approached in good faith. The Frye remains committed to providing an inclusive and respectful environment for all of its staff, volunteers, and visitors.”

Efforts to unionize at the Frye began earlier in June. Workers at the museum had alleged that the wages they were being paid were too low for their city and unequal to the rates for positions at similar art institutions. The Frye previously said it would not recognize the union.

The AWU is the second major union to form at an art institution this month. Last week, workers at the Brooklyn Academy of Music also unionized.

The formation of AWU is part of a growing trend at art institutions across North America. In the past year, workers at the New Museum in Manhattan also launched a union, and groups of the sort have helped agitate for better conditions at the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, both in New York, and at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada. Workers at New York’s Guggenheim Museum are also seeking to form a union. Meanwhile, an online document that discloses museum workers’ salaries has been circulated widely.

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