Wexner Center for the Arts Workers Announce Intent to Unionize

Award-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar lend their support to the effort

Columbus, OH—March 4, 2022—Staff at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University announced their plans to form a union with AFSCME Ohio Council 8. Wex Workers United cited concerns over the health and safety of employees, pay equity, transparency, and top down decision-making as part of a list of issues they will address through a union. Their letter to Wexner Center and Ohio State leadership can be read here.

Wex Workers United has already garnered support from celebrated filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who are known for documentaries about the labor struggle such as the Oscar-winning American Factory. “We fully support the Wexner Center staff’s decision to form a union,” the filmmakers note in a statement in response to the union effort, “Their right as Americans to join together, to become an official group, is fundamental.”

“Staff at the Wex have individually raised our voices to articulate concerns about inequities and the health of those of us in public-facing roles at the Wex,” according to Wexner Center Store Manager Matt Reber. “The responses have left us feeling isolated and unsupported. Having a union means having a collective voice. It will create opportunities to be heard and have action taken to improve working conditions. This, in turn, strengthens the workplace as a whole and improves our ability to support the mission of the Wex.”

“A union helps us all in the end but is especially vital for the most vulnerable of us—the underpaid, the front-facing workers, and multiply marginalized staff members,” says Learning & Public Practice Programs Coordinator Jo Snyder. “Leadership, policies, and benefits can all change without worker input, leaving staff to deal with the fallout. A union doesn’t just create solidarity among staff; it gives us consistency, whatever else might happen.”

Wex Workers United aims to join the recent wave of labor organizing sweeping through the arts and culture sector as well as other industries, from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Walker Art Center to Amazon and Starbucks. The group hopes that leadership at the center and the university will voluntarily recognize efforts to unionize, and it looks forward to negotiations that will lead to a stronger and more equitable institution.

For more information visit wexworkersunited.org and follow Wex Workers United on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Click here for a PDF of this press release.