Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum employees vote to unionize

Workers in Lincoln Park and at a collections facility in Ravenswood will join Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

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The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at 2430 N. Cannon Drive.

Workers at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr., voted to unionize Thursday.

Sun-Times files

Staffers at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum have voted overwhelmingly to unionize, continuing a string of successful organizing drives by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The vote was 31-4 in favor of unionizing in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, AFSCME said. Ballots were mailed in recent weeks and counted Thursday. Two ballots were not counted because of management challenges.

The employees will join AFSCME’s Council 31. The bargaining unit will cover 45 workers at the museum’s Lincoln Park location and at a collections facility in Ravenswood.

The unit will include full- and part-time employees, according to its filing with the labor board.

In its busy campaign to organize Chicago cultural institutions, AFSCME has scored six victories in the last year and a half. It has won union certification elections for staff at the Newberry Library, the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and for staff and non-tenure track faculty at the Art Institute’s school. They are in various stages of contract negotiation.

Workers at the Museum of Science and Industry also have filed for a union election to join AFSCME.

Erin Amico, Notebaert museum’s president and CEO, said it “remains committed to creating an equitable and collaborative workplace and one that ensures professional growth. We respect the decision of our employees, and we look forward to reaching an agreement.”

The museum also uses its original name, Chicago Academy of Sciences. Employees call their bargaining unit Chicago Academy of Sciences Workers United. They work in guest experience and engagement, education, biology or collections.

“I feel relieved and excited that we won our union, and I’m glad that we can now get to work on a contract,” Anabel Hirano, coordinator for volunteers and interns and a member of the union organizing committee, said in a statement released by AFSCME. “One of my top goals is to improve transparency around advancement opportunities for all staff.”

The employees will elect a bargaining committee, distribute a survey and hold listening sessions to settle on priorities for a first contract.

AFSCME is known mostly for representing government workers, but it also includes more than 10,000 museum workers and more than 25,000 library workers in the public and private sectors.

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