New Children's Museum
The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. Courtesy of the museum

Workers and  management and at the New Children’s Museum signed a collective bargaining agreement this week, becoming the first of San Diego’s 45 museums to organize.

The agreement covers wages, benefits and worker protections for 11 employees, and comes after more  than a year of negotiations amid the pandemic.

“This contract demonstrates the power of union workers at the bargaining table. Our  members were able to negotiate immediate increases in pay, along with annual pay raises, sustained health care, and opportunities for more input on the job,” said Nate Fairman, business manager for IBEW Local 465.

The local also represents workers at San Diego Gas & Electric and the Metropolitan Transit system.

The agreement comes as the museum in downtown San Diego prepares to reopen in May with outside activities in  the adjacent Museum Park. 

Reed Vickerman, the museum’s interim executive director, praised the agreement and said the institution is “proud to invest in our employees and acknowledge their contributions to the museum and San Diego’s children.” 

The contract puts the employees of the arts-based children’s museum among the ranks of  a growing number of museum workers nationwide who are unionizing, including at the SFMOMA in San Francisco, the Solomon R. Guggenheim and the Children’s Museum  of the Arts in New York, the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and the Philadelphia  Museum of Art. 

“We love our work, and we are proud to serve the museum’s mission with passion and  dedication. Our goal throughout this process has been to create a sustainable future,” said Jill Grant, the lead worker representative in bargaining. “This contract makes significant progress toward that goal  — and we hope our successful negotiation inspires other museum workers to unionize.” 

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.