Chicago’s National Public Housing Museum Employees Announce Union, Seek Voluntary Recognition

Photo caption: National Public Housing Museum staff members Mark Jaeschke and Liú Méi-Zhì Chen present the staff’s letter to management, along with IAM Midwest Territory Grand Lodge Representative Chris Tucker and IAM Associate Organizer Brian Ilic. (Photo: Alex Orfirer Maher)

CHICAGO, Feb. 22, 2023 – A majority of staff at the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM) in Chicago have announced their intent to form the National Public Housing Workers United union, with assistance from the 600,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), and are seeking voluntary recognition of their union from museum management.

“Though we have the votes to easily win a union election, we would rather expedite the process towards recognition and not distract from the important work that we are all doing at the National Public Housing Museum,” museum employees wrote in a letter to the museum’s executive director.

Museum staff are seeking to achieve a stable and sustainable work environment and a collective bargaining agreement that ensures accountability, communication and transparency.

“We have each chosen to work at NPHM in large part because we share the values of this institution—values of solidarity, radical care, community power, and the galvanizing potential of arts and culture,” reads the letter. “We believe that in order to uphold and enact these values, we all need to be accountable to each other: to push each other, to support each other, and to invest in each other.”

The IAMAW represents workers across North America in a wide variety of industries, including museum workers in Milwaukee, library workers and Apple employees in Maryland, and architectural workers in New York.

“Just as we are deeply excited by this inclusive future for the museum and its workers, we are equally excited to be represented by IAMAW,” the letter continues. “As we’ve collaborated with IAMAW, we’ve been impressed and inspired by their commitment to transparency and democratic processes as demonstrated by their fiscal transparency, inclusionary and accessible voting systems, and encouraged member participation at all levels.”

The National Public Housing Museum is the only cultural institution devoted to telling the story of public housing in the United States. Its mission is to preserve, promote, and propel the right of all people to a place where they can live and prosper, a place to call home, according to the museum’s website.

“We are eager to come to the bargaining table and work collectively with you to build a stronger, more equitable, more sustainable, and more united NPHM,” the museum workers conclude in the letter to management.

 The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is one of North America’s largest and most diverse industrial trade unions, representing approximately 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, airlines, railroad, transit, healthcare, automotive, and other industries. | @MachinistsUnion

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