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Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh employees launch unionization campaign

 A stone building with a green dome on top.
Shreya Singh
90.5 WESA
The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

Workers at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh launched their unionizing campaign over the weekend.

Museum employees say they want to improve health and safety conditions, increase transparency, and create better experiences for both museum workers and attendees.

Annette Mihalko, one of the museum’s arts educators, said that it ultimately is about ensuring museum staff can support Pittsburgh’s youngest learners.

“We cannot make sure that the children are having the best possible experiences that they deserve if we are in the situations that we are in, in the workplace,” Mihalko said.

Employees plan to unionize with the United Steelworkers. The United Steelworkers also represents more than 500 museum employees at all four Carnegie Museums – workers who ratified their first contract in May, securing a higher minimum wage and immediate raises.

As of last year, the Carnegie group was the largest museum union in the country.

Mihalko said that, as it stands now, communication between Children’s Museum management and staff is faulty at best. Mihalko said workers are often not given necessary information, making everyday responsibilities stressful.

“Kids are really observant, and they can tell,” she added. “As much as we are all very good at making sure that we appear to be very well prepared, often we are not, especially when there are auxiliary events.”

The Children's Museum could not be immediately reached for comment.

Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.