Save the Field Museum

Field Museum President, Executive Team, and Board

(En español)

For more than 125 years, the Field Museum has been home to some of the world's most brilliant and passionate people. We are the living heartbeat of the museum, the people doing research, receiving packages, preparing specimens, engaging donors, designing displays, cleaning hallways, keeping people safe and healthy, maintaining finances, educating visitors, and bringing beloved exhibitions to life. We choose this work over private-sector compensation because we share the Museum's vision of a brighter future, rich in nature and culture.

That vision is threatened by the regressive layoffs and pay cuts suggested by leadership, which conflict with the Museum’s stated commitment to equity. We fear these cuts will disproportionately impact staff of color and those already paid the least. While we understand that some cost cuts are necessary, we believe these measures must be taken with greater equity and transparency.

Through these challenging months, our staff have repeatedly demonstrated their love for the Field Museum family and for the broader Chicago community, donating more than $200,000 of vacation time to one another, sewing masks, and repurposing the museum’s 3D printers to make face shields for frontline workers. We are proud to call the Field home, and are prepared to make sacrifices to preserve it for generations to come. We are asking leadership to do the same.

If the Field can afford to pay its president $750,000 total compensation and its executives $200,000, we can devise and implement solutions that will not lose the Museum’s most valuable resource: our staff. We call on Museum leadership to share in our sacrifice by acting transparently and collaboratively to enable solutions that uphold our core values and protect our community.

We have the right to come together and petition our employer for better working conditions. It is illegal for the Field Museum or any employer to retaliate against anyone for signing a petition or distributing it on non-work time. For more information, see your labor rights.

We will deliver this petition once it reaches a critical mass of staff signatures.

For questions, contact

Updates 6/7/2020:

  • Edited intro paragraph to be more inclusive. Our sincere apologies for leaving anyone out! We were rushing to send this petition before layoffs started. Your work is valued, and we are all in this together.
  • We've shared our financial calculations, based off IRS Form 990s from 2014-2018 published by ProPublica. We understand the financial situation may have changed since 2018, which is why we've repeatedly asked the Museum to be transparent and provide more up-to-date information. Please leave a comment in that spreadsheet if you have questions or concerns.
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To: Field Museum President, Executive Team, and Board
From: [Your Name]

While COVID-19 has impacted all organizations, the Museum’s finances were strong going into the crisis. Our 2018 tax filings list net assets over a half a billion dollars, and between 2014 and 2018 the Museum had excess revenue of over $121 million — that is revenue minus wages, debt payments and other expenses. Non-management wages amounted to $20.6 million in 2018. We believe it's possible to cut costs without layoffs.

​We, as Field Museum employees, members, donors, and supporters, ask the President and Executive Team to:

1) Suspend imminent layoffs and pay cuts as we investigate alternatives, such as drawing from our unrestricted assets and savings, enacting voluntary and rotating furloughs, and reducing hours.

2) Earn our confidence in your financial decisions by being transparent, sharing our current finances, the criteria used to determine cuts, and expected cost savings. Additionally, clarify how donated vacation time has been used if the Paycheck Protection Program has paid for wages during the April 8-June 8 period.

3) Protect our most vulnerable staff, not our highest-paid ones. If pay must be cut, show leadership by adopting a more equitable pay cut scale in line with what our peers are doing at the Boston Museum of Science¹, the Smithsonian Institution², the American Museum of Natural History³, the Museum of Science and Industry⁴, the Philadelphia Museum of Art⁵, and the California Academy of Sciences⁶. For comparison, these institutions are using graduated pay cuts that reduce executive pay up to 60%, versus our 10% for all staff over $20/hour.

4) Live up to our values of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion, not just in considering the impacts of cuts on staff diversity, but by giving staff a seat at the table in decisions affecting them, in a manner consistent with the actual racial, gender, and income demographics of our staff.

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