- Building A Stronger Foundation Together
- As employees of the Visitor Services department at the Marciano Art Foundation, we provide visitors a unique experience of the Foundation’s collection and special exhibitions. We engage visitors with our enthusiasm and knowledge of contemporary art, its history, and its ideas. We also act as the Foundation’s public face. Like many art institutions, however, the Foundation relies on a system of labor that has historically undervalued its workers, paying workers minimum wage without benefits or basic protections, perpetuating a state of economic precarity for them, and projecting a lack of dignity onto those of us who dedicate our time and energy to serve its mission. With this in mind, we have decided to unionize, standing in solidarity with art workers across the country who are working together to change the status quo.
The Foundation aims “to communicate and respond to the most historically significant developments in art history and human society, while continuously considering current socio-political conditions and contemporary visual culture.” This lofty goal rings hollow when the Foundation fails to consider how these very conditions affect its employees; income inequality, wage stagnation, the student debt crisis, skyrocketing costs of living, and lack of access to healthcare are all exacerbated by the historic undervaluing of institutional art labor. Furthermore, when we are hired as Visitor Service Associates, we are told that our position at the Foundation is a “stepping stone” in our careers. Statements like these perpetuate a high turnover rate and rationalize a lack of protections, while the Foundation’s top-down management structure fails to consider the impact its decisions have on employees. This is an unacceptable and untenable situation, and we seek to address it by unionizing our workforce.
Forming a union will enable us—as well as future employees—to effectively advocate for changes that will make the Foundation a more sustainable and equitable institution. We believe in the Foundation and its mission; we want it to succeed. But we also recognize the need for critical changes at this moment in its development. By democratizing our workplace, we elevate our collective voice to make these changes possible. We have asked that Foundation management respect our right to organize without interference and bargain with us in good faith for a contract that will help us build a stronger foundation together.