Workers at Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station exhibit in Denver have officially formed a union after voting in favor of the move Monday night.
The union won a “super-majority” of support from roughly 200 workers to form a local chapter of the Communication Workers of America, according to a statement from CWA. The chapter — the Meow Wolf Workers Collective — will be made up of two bargaining units representing the museum’s security and operations staff separately.
The company said it voluntarily recognized the new Denver union through a process called an authorization card check — where workers presented their union cards Monday to a third party, who confirmed they had a majority of workers signed on. The process serves as an alternative to the more traditional process of forming a union through an election held by federal regulators.
“Meow Wolf fully did the right thing,” said Nina Moldawsky, a creative operator and union organizer who helped lead the push. “That’s a huge, amazing win.”
The move makes it the second location of the arts behemoth to organize.
Denver workers launched the effort last December, as union workers at Meow Wolf’s flagship Santa Fe exhibit were bargaining with company officials for their first contract. That effort lasted two years due to resistance from the company, a move which initially worried workers at the Denver location about their prospects for forming a union.
That worry faded for many workers, though, after Monday’s voluntary recognition, said Patrick Peterson, a creative operator and union organizer.
“I think it shows how much Meow Wolf as a whole has grown since the Santa Fe union started,” Peterson said. ” If they did not unionize, I feel like we would’ve had a lot harder struggle than we have had. Every road’s gonna have its bumps, you know? But I feel like ours was a lot smoother because Santa Fe kinda set a precedent.”
The union also commended the company’s response and said it looked forward to future contract talks.
“This agreement for a card check with Meow Wolf was a night and day difference from what we saw in Santa Fe and should be an example for all employers who want to do right by their workers,” said Milagro Padilla, a CWA spokesman. “We are hopeful to see that collaboration continue into bargaining.”
The company expressed similar views.
“Our colleagues have spoken,” the company said. “We look forward to working with the union to find common ground as we begin the collective bargaining process.”
Workers say they hope their first contract improves pay and conditions for hundreds of custodians, live actors, box office attendants and other roles that staff the facility in the Sun Valley neighborhood. The organization’s Convergence Station exhibit opened its doors in September 2021 and recently logged its 1 millionth visitor.
The coalition has adopted the slogan “the age of starving artists is over” as a nod toward their demands for the growing arts company, which operates exhibits in four states. Contract negotiations will likely last several months as both sides make their way to the bargaining table.
“This is a moment of celebration for sure,” Moldawsky said. “But there’s a lot of work to be done.”