Art News

Meow Wolf Recognizes Denver Unions After Card Count

Meow Wolf opened Convergence Station in September.
Meow Wolf opened Convergence Station in September. Evan Semón
Meow Wolf has recognized the Meow Wolf Workers Collective, which operates under the Communications Workers of America Local 7055, as the sole representative for two collective-bargaining units that have formed in Denver — one for security workers and one for operations workers. The decision came after a count of signed union authorization cards that was overseen by an independent party approved by both the unions and Meow Wolf.

"Our colleagues have spoken. Based on the results of this week’s card check, Meow Wolf has agreed to voluntarily recognize the MWWC/CWA as the sole representative for each of two Denver bargaining units, one representing security workers and one representing operations workers at Convergence Station. We look forward to working with the union to find common ground as we begin the collective-bargaining process," says Meow Wolf Chief Communications Officer Didi Bethurum.

The next step, she adds, is reaching an agreement between Meow Wolf and union representatives on the bargaining terms for both of the units.

The employees announced their unionizing efforts on July 5 in a statement posted on the MWWC website. "The MWWC will honor our collaborative ideals through a contract with the company," the employees said. "Through this contract, we will center the needs of all workers by seeking employment protections, thriving wages, reasonable accommodations for diverse abilities, clarity in communication, inclusive opportunities for career growth, and a diverse workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment of any kind. The age of starving artists is over. We have an obligation to demand diversity in our staff and in our work. The company and our union must use our platform to boldly dismantle the outdated and toxic cultures that harm our society and prevent humanity from achieving a better world. We must create accessible worlds that we want to live in, and we will eagerly collaborate with the company to achieve that."

Meow Wolf initially responded to employees with an email stating that it "recognizes and respects" their right to organize, while also saying that Convergence Station already meets many of the demands that were made by the Santa Fe union, which was ratified in March.

Those efforts began in September 2020, when Meow Wolf's leadership said that the company worked just fine without a union. But Meow Wolf has new leadership now: The company announced its new CEO, Jose Tolosa, in January prior to co-CEOs Carl Christensen and Ali Rubinstein returning to their original roles as chief financial officer and chief creative officer, respectively. Jim Ward stepped down as co-CEO, as well, but remains an adviser to Meow Wolf.

While the entire company — from union organizers to executives — hit a collective pause after the death of Meow Wolf co-founder Matt King just weeks after the Denver announcement, Meow Wolf said last week that it agreed to a count of signed union authorization cards.

Having the MWWC/CWA be recognized is a major step forward for the nascent unions, which began forming last winter after Convergence Station cut employee hours, according to organizers.

The immersive arts company, which got its start as a renegade arts collective in 2008, opened its Santa Fe location, The House of Eternal Return, in 2016. It announced it was expanding to Denver and Las Vegas in 2018, and opened its Las Vegas location, Omega Mart, in February 2021, and its Denver location, Convergence Station, in September 2021.
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Emily Ferguson is Westword's Culture Editor, covering Denver's flourishing arts and music scene. Before landing this position, she worked as an editor at local and national political publications and held some odd jobs suited to her odd personality, including selling grilled cheese sandwiches at music festivals and performing with fire. Emily also writes on the arts for the Wall Street Journal and is an oil painter in her free time.
Contact: Emily Ferguson