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Wexner Center for the Arts employees unanimously win union election

The Lantern
Staff at the Wexner Center for the Arts unanimously won their union election Wednesday. Credit: Sophia Tobias | For the Lantern

Staff at the Wexner Center for the Arts won its union election in a unanimous vote, over a year after the union – Wex Workers United – was formed.

The union announced the victory Wednesday on Instagram, thanking those who helped achieve its goal. “We would like to thank our supporters, our union, representatives, and the Wex Workers for their tireless work since announcing the union campaign back in March 2022,” Wex Workers United said.

According to a press release , the union was formed with the help of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, a front-runner in helping organize statewide workplace unions. Wex Workers United was created in hopes of making the center an “equitable, transparent, and sustainable workplace for employees at all levels.”

The decision comes over a year after Wexner employees formed the union campaign , citing concerns over the health and safety of employees, pay equity, transparency and top-down decision-making as part of a list of issues they would address through a union.

The union garnered community support in a publi c petition that boasted nearly 1,300 signatures, claiming the “university leadership remained unmoved and disinterested in addressing employee concerns,” as well as collecting support from elected officials including Columbus City Councilman Rob Doran, according to The Columbus Dispatch .

According to a press release, the union also gathered support in their efforts to unionize from award-winning documentary filmmakers Julia Reichart and Stephen Bognar, mainly known for their documentary on labor struggles, “American Factory.”

The decision to unionize was made throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which shed light on the underlying issues within the Wexner Center, according to the Wex Worker’s United letter to leadership.

The letter cites reduced hours, pay inequities, furloughed staff and added responsibility throughout the pandemic as issues that played a role in the decision to unionize. According to the letter, some of the lowest-paid employees were made to return to public-facing responsibilities prior to vaccines becoming available.

“Wexner Center for the Arts staff are integral to the center’s mission, and we are grateful for their many contributions to arts and culture at Ohio State. We look forward to working with the 29 bargaining unit employees and their union representatives on current and future employment matters,” university spokesperson Chris Booker said in an email.

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