Earlier this month, dozens of employees of Los Angeles’s Marciano Art Foundation (MAF) were laid off just days after declaring plans to unionize. While the museum initially told staffers that it would be “supportive of all recommendations to improve the workplace experience,” it then closed its doors indefinitely, citing poor attendance. The workers beginning to organize were docents, visitor services associates, and other front-facing staffers at the private museum, which was established in 2013 by Maurice and Paul Marciano, the billionaire founders of the American clothing empire Guess.
Now, according to Artnet, those ex-employeesalongside members of their would-be union, AFSCME District Council 36have announced that they will demonstrate at Guess clothing stores across the country on Black Friday to call attention to the Marciano brothers’ shuttered museum and its allegedly unlawful union-busting. The recently laid-off employees have staged actions outside of the Marciano-owned Wally’s Wine & Spirits store in Santa Monica and at LAXART, where Olivia Marciano is on the board. (LAXART director Hamza Walkers said the institution will consider the situation.)
AFSCME District Council 36, a local branch of the American Federation of State that also represents LA’s Museum of Tolerance, filed charges on behalf of the MAF staffers in early November. “We’re not asking them to not shop at Guess on Black Friday,” Ling Esangga, an organizing director at AFSCME District Council 36, told Artnet. “We’re just educating the people shopping at Guess, and letting them know that just because the Marcianos are billionaires, they’re not above the law.”
Earlier today, staff members at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles announced that they are taking steps toward forming a union and have met with management.