COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Employees at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts announced their plans to unionize Friday.

Staff members urged leadership at the Wexner Center for the Arts to recognize their union, Wex Workers United, as a means to protect employees who faced furloughs, a reduction of working hours and increased job responsibilities following the elimination of six positions during the pandemic, the group said in a Friday news release.

“The last two years have greatly exacerbated long-standing issues at the Wex and Ohio State, including pay equity and working culture, while raising additional concerns for our health and safety,” Wex Workers United said in the release.

Formed through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 8, Wex Workers United said it was “further emboldened” to unionize by recent programming at the Wexner Center for the Arts that featured pro-labor messaging, including LaToya Ruby Frazier’s exhibition The Last Cruze and the film Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film.

Wex Workers United said that unionizing will allow employees to have “a clear, consistent, legal, and equitable voice” at the predominately white institution.

“We see and appreciate the efforts of upper management to attempt to address many of these issues for the very first time in the history of the organization,” the group said. “But lasting, systemic change must ultimately come from the bottom up.”