The New Children’s Museum / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
The New Children’s Museum / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Voice of San Diego’s inaccurate coverage of The New Children’s Museum’s recent unionization vote did a disservice to all involved. Let’s set this straight.

The New Children’s Museum values our employees and we compensate them fairly. Our practices, work environment, wages/salaries and additional benefits are clear evidence that we already do that.  We provided details to VOSD that were omitted from the coverage, which is unfortunate.

We already compensate all full-time employees above San Diego living wage, all part-time employees above minimum wage as well as provide an excellent work environment. That is why we have minimal turnover above the part-time or entry-level employees. Unfortunately, this also limits opportunities for upward mobility causing frustration for less tenured employees which, we are confident, was a factor in this unionization effort.

Our board recognizes that the museum’s greatest asset is the people who bring it to life every day, who enable us to fulfill our mission, and who provide a rich offering of programs, exhibits and educational opportunities.

That is why our single largest area of investment is our people.

We did not need a union to put this into place, but now we have a union including only 48 of our total of 83 employees. This is, also, certainly in part due to a nationwide trend of unionizing museums, including such highly respected institutions as The Guggenheim, The Museum of Tolerance, Museum of Modern Art, The Exploratorium, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and others. The common theme? These are in places with high taxes and high cost of living – like San Diego. That is not something we control or can change.

We acknowledge that the majority of eligible employees voted to unionize and that underlying it is their sense of passion and mission and desire to build a career here at the museum. Now that we do have a union, we will absolutely bargain in good faith and always seek the win-win.

What does this mean for The New Children’s Museum, and the children and families we serve? We do not expect it to impact our business operations. Period. We continue to function as a single team. This in no way changes our commitment to serving our community and those who embody the future, while remaining a uniquely mission-driven place to work.

Lastly, let me address the gaping holes in the coverage.

Voice of San Diego paid only passing mention to a “existing competitive compensation packages” without noting that includes 100 percent employer-paid medical, dental, vision and life insurance, two weeks of paid vacation and 12 paid holidays for all full-time employees; as well as a 403(b) employer match plan, downtown parking and public transportation cost reimbursement for all employees, including part-time.

Voice of San Diego got it totally wrong that I personally “expressed support and admiration for the employees’ drive to organize.” What my statement did say was, “We appreciate the passion of our employees that drive them to explore becoming part of this larger movement.” Big difference there.

Voice of San Diego wanted to make this about having to choose between working for not-for-profits versus earning a living wage, which is a misleading diametric. And given the above, I think your readers can understand why we were disappointed.

Let’s keep top of mind what really matters: the mission and passion and dedication to children and families. That unites every one of us working for The New Children’s Museum.

Judy L. Forrester is president and CEO of The New Children’s Museum.

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