Employees of the Walters Art Museum have a reason to look forward to 2023. The museum announced Wednesday that is it boosting the pay its employees will receive by an average of 13%.
For some part-time hourly employees, the raise will mean that their pay has grown by 39% in less than two years.
The museum said in a news release that the wage hikes will apply to full- and part-time employees as well as to interns. It will apply to salaried workers and to those paid hourly.
Tiarra Chance, the museum’s director of human resources, said in the news release that the raises demonstrate “the commitment of Walters’ leadership to competitive compensation and to taking action when action is needed.”
She added that the raises “will benefit our employees and the museum as a whole.”
The base rate for the lowest-paid employees will rise from $15 an hour to $17 an hour for the Jan. 2, 2023 pay period, the release said.
As recently as January 2021, full-time hourly workers at the museum were earning $14.25 an hour, while part-time hourly employees were paid $12.25 an hour.
Museum director Julia Marciari-Alexander said the raises resulted from an extensive compensation study conducted this summer that analyzed pay rates nationwide for large-budget museums located in cities with high costs of living. The committee determined that the Walters should set the pay for each position at the national median.
“Competitive compensation is important for multiple reasons, including for our ability to attract and retain staff across the whole institution,” Marciari-Alexander said in the release.
She pledged that in the future, trustees will “regularly reevaluate our compensation so that we are keeping pace with changes in the museum field and will remain competitive as an employer.”
The museum undertook the compensation study in the midst of a protracted struggle by employees to be represented by the labor union of their choice.
Staff members grouping together under the name Walters Workers United announced plans to organize on April 30, 2021. Sixteen months later, those employees filed a lawsuit in Baltimore City District Court against museum trustees.
The lawsuit asks a judge to determine that they are employees of the city of Baltimore and are entitled under the Maryland Public Information Act to receive copies of museum documents, including the minutes from board meetings. Private sector employees are not subject to the Information Act.
Baltimore City District Court Judge John S. Nugent is expected to issue a written ruling in early 2023. His decision will have significant implications for the workers’ desire to form one larger and presumably stronger union instead of two separate units.