To the MAM Board of Trustees
Dear MAM Staff:

We plan to collect signed letters and share as a whole with the Board before next Thursday’s Annual Member Meeting on 10/28. If you would like to submit a version with your own flourishes, please send your version our way, and we will submit that as well! Email to

Thank you for the support and solidarity!
Ariel, Lydelle, Paul, Ryan, and Stephanie
Your Bargaining Committee


October 28, 2021

Dear Members of the Milwaukee Art Museum Board of Trustees,

Thank you for your service to and patronage of the Milwaukee Art Museum. I would like to introduce myself and my fellow museum coworkers. We are members of the union formed in association with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in November of 2020.

    - We are over 70 employees from across the museum who present, interpret, preserve, and protect the artwork, touching nearly every aspect of the Museum’s operations.

    - 58% of us were furloughed during 2020 and 2021, and have been excited and proud to return to work at the Museum when it reopened to offer meaningful respite amidst the pandemic, as well as revenue-generating events.

    - 42% of us earn less than $14.32 an hour, the current MIT Living Wage for Milwaukee County for a single adult with no dependents.

    - Before negotiations started, we were paid on average 16% below the median wage for our positions, according to the AAMD and AAM salary surveys. This is in stark contrast to the executive salaries reported in the museum’s 2019 990, who make an average of 23% above the median wage for their roles.*

    - Some of us make 43% below median to do professional-grade work.  

    - 39 of our coworkers have left the Museum since July 1, 2021, including the vast majority of the Food and Beverage Department, leading to the closure of regular onsite dining options.

    - Counting just those employees covered by our contract, that means the Museum has lost 128 cumulative years of experience in the past 4 months.

Voting to form a union was an act of hope. We are hopeful for the future of the Milwaukee Art Museum as it seeks to connect the Museum and the Community in new and meaningful ways through the Strategic Direction. We, the employees of the Milwaukee Art Museum, are also part of that community, as 89% of us call Milwaukee County home. To do the best work possible, and to lead in the arts and culture sector regionally and nationally, the Museum must begin by valuing its employee base equitably.

As you may know, we are currently negotiating a first contract with the Museum. We ask that Museum leadership acknowledge that wages at the Museum have been below average long prior to the current moment. The financial solvency of the Museum cannot be based on paying its workers 20% below median.

We call on you, the Trustees of the Milwaukee Art Museum, to support us in our desire for fair and living wages; job security;  career development; increased access to health insurance; diversity and equity in the workplace; and stronger health and safety protections.

Please let Dr. Polednik and the Executive Committee know that you value the livelihoods and humanity of the employees of the Milwaukee Art Museum, and desire to see them fairly compensated, valued, and respected via a fair employment contract.

We are proud to work at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and desire to be part of its future.

Thank you again for your service, and stewardship of the Milwaukee Art Museum and its future.



*For executive compensation, we looked at the Midwest data from the Association of Art Museum Directors 2020 Salary Survey, published October 21, 2020: For staff data, we looked at this same data, as well as the data for Midwest and Museums with Operating Budgets over $3 million, from the American Alliance of Museums 2017 National Museum Salary Survey:

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