Discover more from Salem-Keizer Proletariat
Gilbert House Children’s Museum Staff Walk Out Over “Hostile, Abusive” Conditions
Citing poor leadership & seemingly retaliatory firing, workers demand change
If you went to the Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Salem on April 19th, you were met with a notice that the popular children’s destination was closed.
Not for cleaning. Not for a private event. Not for repairs.
The staff had walked out. And they weren’t shy about why.
Salem-Keizer Proletariat is entirely reader-supported. Important stories like this get coverage because of support through subscriptions. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
In a statement issued on behalf of workers at the Gilbert House Children’s Museum, visitor services staff explained the motivations for their collective action:
Gilbert House staff protested outside the Children’s Museum on Saturday, April 22, joined by members of the community. The goal was to raise awareness about working conditions at the museum, and to warn against retaliatory acts against workers - a fear that staff said is supported by years of unacceptable treatment and retaliation against former colleagues.
In a detailed account of years of alleged poor leadership and treatment of services staff, current and former Gilbert House workers cited official complaints - specifically against the non-profit’s executive director - and board investigations that went nowhere.
A “third-party” investigation resulted in the staff being told there were no issues uncovered & the “Executive Director is not going anywhere.” Staff also reported the board of directors of the Gilbert House Children’s Museum left them feeling gaslit & blamed for the investigation taking place, and the associated cost was subtly described as a waste of resources considering the precipitating harassment complaints were simply the result of “normal work stuff.”
And just days after their complaints being waived off by the board on April 14, the conflict between leadership and staff boiled over after an assistant director was fired & other staff walked out with them.
That was on April 19th, when the Gilbert House Children’s Museum was forced to close to the public, because of the walkout. The non-profit left this message on its Facebook page to announce the impromptu closure:
The non-profit eventually hid comments on that post, and limited the ability to comment on their Facebook page entirely. Prior to their censorship efforts, comments were left explaining to potential visitors the reason for the closure. It even appeared that a Museum board member was trying to influence discussion, from screenshots taken before all comments were hidden or deleted.
It’s not clear what the next step is in resolving this ongoing issue. But Gilbert House Children’s Museum staff seemed determined to improve working conditions, and keep the Salem landmark up and running.
“We have grown sick of being harassed, we have grown tired of being accustomed to a hostile work environment,” one worker said in a statement. “We have absolutely nothing but passion towards the Museum, many of us grew up coming here as children. It disgusts all of us to see a staple of Salem sullied by an incompetent, ignorant and out-of-touch Leadership.”
Salem-Keizer Proletariat is entirely reader-supported. There’s a reason you don’t see stories like this reported by corporate media. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.