Academy Museum of Motion Pictures voluntarily recognizes union

Academy Museum Workers United (AMWU) has been voluntarily recognized by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

This decision comes just a few weeks after AMWU members “Marched on the Boss” and delivered a statement asking for voluntary recognition for 160 museum employees across 17 departments. “We are thrilled to have come to an agreement with the Academy Museum over recognition of our union, and to have 69% union support from our co-workers,” said Viviana Santillan, a visitor-experience associate at the museum.

In late May, Academy Museum workers announced their intent to form a Union with AFSCME District Council 36, citing wage discrepancies, inadequate responses to COVID-19 outbreaks, and being asked to do work outside their job description as reasons. “We’re a young institution, and it still feels like that start-up energy where we were doing multiple jobs,” Academy Museum Assistant Curator J. Raúl Guzmán said. “That mentality has continued, and we need to change that.”

Academy Museum workers are joining cultural workers across the country as part of the Cultural Workers United (CWU) movement. Thousands of workers have unionized through CWU over the last few years, including workers at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, who are also affiliated with AFSCME District Council 36 and recently ratified their first contract.

Next, AMWU will form a bargaining team and begin negotiating their first contract with Academy Museum leadership. “Now we can move forward in building a working relationship with museum leadership and focus on having a voice over our working conditions and the creative professions to make this institution the best in our community and the world,” said Santillan. “We are thankful for the support from our union family at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, SAG-AFTRA, California IATSE Council and Writers Guild of America West. When workers stick together, we empower each other to create the workplace we deserve.”