Editor’s Note: Since this edition went to press, Storm King Art Center (SKAC) Visitor Services department workers have overwhelmingly voted to join CSEA along with their colleagues.

NEW WINDSOR — Workers at Storm King Art Center (SKAC) voted recently to join our union, making them one of the most recent groups of cultural workers across the country unionizing their workplaces.

Organizing committee members said they opted to form a union with CSEA because they are seeking a voice on the job, equity in the workplace, sustainable wages and safety and health protections, among other workplace improvements.

“We are thrilled to welcome the workers of Storm King Art Center into our CSEA family,” said CSEA Southern Region President Anthony M. Adamo. “Not only do these workers have the support of their fellow CSEA members in the Hudson Valley and across New York State, they are also part of a strong coalition within our international union AFSCME known as Cultural Workers United, which allows them to connect and collaborate with other cultural workers organizing their workplaces.”

SKAC is a world-renowned outdoor sculpture park that draws about 200,000 visitors annually. Workers in cultural settings have been organizing in record numbers. Other AFSCME affiliate unions are now representing cultural institutions in New York City, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and the Central Park Zoo. Further upstate, our union recently added the Utica Zoo to the CSEA family.

After their successful union election, organizing committee members from Storm King Art Center gathered at The Wherehouse restaurant in the City of Newburgh for a celebratory gathering. The owners of The Wherehouse are pro-labor and have made space available in the restaurant for organizing committee members and CSEA staff throughout the organizing process.

The recent union election included all non-management workers with the exception of those working in SKAC’s Visitor Services Department, as directed by the National Labor Relations Board. As this edition went to press, CSEA was actively negotiating with SKAC management for workers in Visitor Services to receive voluntary recognition as a CSEA bargaining unit.

Members of the SKAC Organizing Committee said the union victory was an exciting step in the right direction.

“We are so excited that our colleagues turned out to have their voices heard and supported our union,” said Emilie Pass, major gifts associate at SKAC. “We can’t wait to get started to make Storm King a more equitable workplace.”

The organizing process, which began last summer, has given workers an opportunity to discover their strength.

“Throughout this process, our organizing committee has seen the strength we have as workers,” said Rebecca Lujan, education coordinator at SKAC. “I’m always thinking of the future of Storm King and their statement supporting inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. If it’s our practice that we want a more inclusive space at Storm King, it has to happen internally with a union inclusive of all workers.”

While the details of a bargaining unit for Visitor Services staff still need to be finalized, workers from that department expressed excitement over their co-workers’ decision to form their union.

“I’m thrilled that my co-workers were able to vote in favor of joining CSEA and am grateful we have their support to push for a union that is truly inclusive,” said Amber Bowen, visitor services team lead. “All of the departments at Storm King are interconnected and rely upon each other, which is why it makes sense to have a union that includes all of us.”

— Jessica Ladlee

On Storm King Art Center’s opening day on April 1, CSEA leaders traveled to the outdoor sculpture park to show solidarity with workers there organizing a union. Shown here are CSEA activists with SKAC workers, who had gathered on their lunch break.


About Author

Jessica Ladlee is the communications specialist for CSEA's Southern Region. A graduate of Boston University, Ladlee is an award-winning journalist who worked as a newspaper editor before joining the CSEA communications team in 2004. She is passionate about the opportunities unions provide for people to join the middle class, something her grandmother did as a Rockland County CSEA member over 50 years ago.

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