Portland art museum workers vote to unionize

Christopher Burns, Bangor Daily News, Maine
·1 min read

Apr. 23—Portland Museum of Art workers have voted to unionize.

Workers there voted 16 to 10 in favor of joining the United Auto Workers Local 2110, which represents technical, professional and office workers. Those ballots were impounded back in December while the museum appealed to the National Labor Relations Board and finally tallied on Thursday night, according to the Portland Press Herald.

That comes after the labor board handed the museum a victory earlier this month in a decision that ruled gallery ambassadors were ineligible to join the union because they perform security functions, reversing a regional board ruling that they were eligible to unionize, the newspaper reported.

The decision from the art museum workers to unionize comes amid the wait for the outcome of the Maine Medical Center nurses' vote to join the statewide nurses union.

Nearly 13,000 Mainers joined a union in 2020, bringing union membership to 82,000, compared with 69,000 in 2019. That means 14.7 percent of the state's workforce belongs to a union, the highest level seen here in decades.

Despite a decadeslong decline in union membership, Maine has seen organizing in new sectors, like art museum workers. In 2015, Shaw's Supermarkets pharmacists joined the Teamsters Union Local 340. Two years earlier, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers succeeded in organizing Maine lobstermen, adding nearly 600 to that union's ranks.