Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center Employees Are Unionizing for Higher Pay

CAC management tells CityBeat they are "discussing the situation internally" after employees announced they are unionizing.

Jan 20, 2023 at 8:29 am
click to enlarge Major changes are also coming to CAC, which is why security specialist Brandon Wagner says employees are organizing. - Photo:
Major changes are also coming to CAC, which is why security specialist Brandon Wagner says employees are organizing.

The employees of Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) are unionizing, employees announced Jan. 17.

Brandon Wagner, a security specialist for CAC, made the announcement in a video posted to Instagram.

“We just finished turning in a letter notifying the interim director that we are now unionizing!” Wagner says to the camera in front of six dancing employees.
 The video was posted to the account for Ohio’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a union representing employees working in public service. Wagner told CityBeat the main reason CAC employees are seeking to unionize is for increased wages.

“The biggest reason is mostly raises in pay. We are having some staffing issues and that’s due to pay,” Wagner said. “We are due for some major changes to keep up with the times. The cost of living is rising.”

Major changes are also coming to CAC, which is why Wagner said now is the best time for employees to organize. The museum is slated to announce a new director in March (CAC's website lists Marcus Margerum as the current interim director and chief business officer). Wagner could not disclose to CityBeat who has been named for the role.

Wagner and the 30 other CAC employees who have signed union cards want the change in leadership to come with newfound representation. He saidt he hopes that those currently in management are understanding of the timing.

“My biggest concern is that I do not want anyone in any management to take this personally,” he said. “The intention of unionizing is not at any major discrepancy of failure. The timing is just right.”

Wagner said the employees are represented by Jess Reidel, who is listed as a gallery security specialist on CAC’s website.

“Now that we are officially open, I hope they are willing to talk with us,” Wagner said.

CAC responded to CityBeat's request for comment on the union effort.

"We value our employees. We are currently discussing the situation internally and look forward to sharing more information when it is appropriate," Margerum told CityBeat in an emailed statement.

In the meantime, Wagner is encouraging museum patrons to support the union by supporting the CAC.

“Keep coming, Keep visiting the CAC. We appreciate the foot traffic. Support is support,” he said.

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