Wexner Center for the Arts employees announce their intent to unionize

In a letter, Wex Workers United cite concerns over health, safety, pay equity and more

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
The Wexner Center for the Arts

Today, staff from local Ohio State University arts institution the Wexner Center for the Arts announced their intent to form a union with AFSCME Ohio Council 8. In a letter to Wexner Center leadership, "Wex Workers United" cited several areas of concern that led the group to seek voluntary recognition of the union.

"The last two years have greatly exacerbated long-standing issues at the Wex and Ohio State, including pay equity and working culture, while raising additional concerns for our health and safety," the letter states. "During the early pandemic, staff bore the brunt of furloughs, reduced working hours, and the elimination of six positions. Our workloads were not lessened during this time of reduced staff—in fact, many of us took on additional work beyond our job descriptions while receiving little to no compensation for completing these extra duties. When the center reopened to the public, some of the lowest paid among us were required to put our health on the line and return to public-facing responsibilities on site, before vaccines were available."

The group also said it was emboldened by recent "pro-labor programming" at the Wex, including the LaToya Ruby Frazier exhibition "The Last Cruze" and the retrospective "Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film." (In a press release, Reichert and partner Stephen Bognar expressed their support of Wex Workers United's unionizing efforts.) "We are grounded in the rich history of labor organizing in Ohio and inspired by the recent wave of unionization that has swept the arts and culture world," the letter states.

Read the full letter here.