Meow Wolf Workers Collective Claims Unfair Labor Practices

Union alleges numerous issues in the quest for equitable treatment in complaint with National Labor Relations Board

Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf Workers Collective has filed charges of unfair labor practices against the company with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). While the union filed the charges Dec. 21, according to Communication Workers of America organizer Milagro Padilla, who helped form MWWC and has worked with the union since the beginning, it decided to go public with an Instagram post this week.

In the post, the union—which represents 142 employees of Meow Wolf’s Santa Fe location—identifies alleged grievances such as the company changing holiday and time-off policies without consulting the union, a requirement for new hires to sign documentation that circumvents the MWWC altogether and the company’s refusal to provide critical information for the negotiation process

The detailed complaint was not available on the labor board’s website, but a caption of the case provides a breakdown of the legal allegations, accusing Meow Wolf of retaliation, illegally modifying the workers’ contract, refusing to bargain and bargaining in bad faith. SFR filed a request for the full complaint under the Freedom of Information Act, though it was not immediately available.

“[Unfair labor practice complaints] happen pretty frequently in campaigns, but I don’t want to downplay that ULPs happen when a union believes an employer has broken the law,” Padilla tells SFR on behalf of the union. “Management at Meow Wolf knows or should know that what they’re doing isn’t just illegal, it’s immoral.”

The Meow Wolf Workers Collective formed in October 2020 and, as recently as September of last year, had not agreed to terms with the company. At that time, the union alleged anti-union language in a job posting from Meow Wolf which was later removed.

Here’s the recent Instagram post from the MWWC:

“The law is very clear here—Meow Wolf needs to sit down and negotiate with the MWWC before they make any changes to working conditions,” Padilla continues. “They won their election over a year ago and management should know the law around this. It’s not like we’ve been doing this for a month, it’s been more than a year. It’s really time for Meow Wolf to get serious.”

Padilla says the NLRB will now investigate the complaint and come to a determination, though the specifics of what shape that will take following the investigation are unclear.

“We are aware that the MWWC/CWA has filed unfair labor charges with the NLRB and we are awaiting further details as to the nature of the charges at this point in time,” the company tells SFR in an email statement. “Meow Wolf has been negotiating in good faith with the Union and we anticipate reaching a final contract soon.”

The announcement for the Dec. 21 filing comes roughly a week after Meow Wolf named a new CEO, former ViacomCBS exec Jose Tolosa. Padilla says that, as far as he knows, Tolosa will not be a part of union negotiations yet. Former interim CEOs Ali Rubinstein and Carl Christensen will step back into their previous roles at Meow Wolf as chief creative director and Chief financial officer respectively, while a third interim CEO, Jim Ward, left the company last year.

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