On Tuesday Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle) issued the following statement in response to the Art Workers Union members at the Frye Art Museum who won their union representation election, which was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The vote was unanimous for the union, which includes 13 Frye security guards.
“As a rank and file member of the local teachers union, City Councilmember and elected representative of Seattle’s working people, and member of Socialist Alternative, I congratulate the Frye Art Museum security guards on their overwhelming union election win! You’ve stood together and formed a union to demand and win dignity, good pay, respect at work, and the right to housing affordability in Seattle.
“With the union election concluded, I call on the Frye management and board of directors to recognize the Art Workers Union without delay, and to promptly begin negotiations for a union contract with substantial improvements in their pay, hours, and benefits.
“The Frye workers are part of what has made Seattle, and District 3, a vibrant, dynamic community. They’ve shared their creativity and artistry as glassblowers, printmakers, painters, and pen-and-ink artists. They are called security guards by Frye, but in fact they do more than guard the artwork. They guide museum visitors, and lend their own artistic expertise in teaching people about the Frye’s exhibits.
“And yet these workers face economic eviction from Seattle, because of the combination of an employer nickel-and-diming them on wages, and greedy corporate landlords who are jacking up rents all over our city. These workers are on the edge of being homeless.
“This is not acceptable. And it’s why, as we support these workers in their union organizing and in bargaining a first contract, my office is also uniting working people across District 3 and citywide to build the movement for rent control free of corporate loopholes, and taxing big business so we can fund a massive social housing program.
“I salute the Frye workers for their bravery in standing up. And I encourage all workers, no matter where you work, to follow in the footsteps of these workers, and form unions so you can fight for better living standards and working conditions. Let’s build a powerful labor movement to fight for workers rights in the workplace and affordable housing throughout our city!”