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Campus Notebook: Visitor Gift Shop Workers Join Union

Capitol Visitor Center gift shop workers have for the first time decided to unionize, according to a union leader.

The gift shop workers reached out to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees following last year’s vote by CVC tour guides and visitor assistants to form a union of their own under the group’s umbrella, said Carl Goldman, executive director of AFSCME Council 26.

The gift shop workers’ vote to join the union was held in March.

“The guides and the visitor assistants now have a way to talk to management about issues,” Goldman said.

Gift shop workers “saw that as something they thought could enhance their working life and contribute to making the CVC work better for everyone.”

Seventeen employees will join the same union that represents the tour guides, AFSCME Local 658, which was certified in September. Including the newly represented employees, the union’s membership numbers around 150.

Tour guide Megan Burger has been serving as acting president. Goldman said he expects the union will hold its first officer elections later this month.

“They’ve passed their constitution, and it has to go through an approval process in the international union to make sure everything is in accordance with labor law,” he said. “As soon as they get that back, they’ll have elections.”

The guides announced their intent to unionize last June, citing lack of attention by management about issues they care about and lack of a venue in which to raise their concerns. In particular, they wanted more weather-appropriate uniforms and the ability to carry water bottles on the job.

Since the vote, tour guides and visitor assistants said conditions have improved and they’ve met with management.

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