Over 400 Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) workers are on strike against contracting out and for better hours, liveable wages, and a future at the gallery. Our livelihoods should matter, not just the bottom line.

We keep the gallery lights on. We keep the doors open. We keep the art moving. And on March 26, we shut it down.

Over 60% of us are precarious, part-time workers who can’t get consistent hours or full-time opportunities. Meanwhile, the executive elites collect annual pay bumps as high as 40-60%.

We love the arts & the gallery, but after years of dedication, we shouldn’t be at the poverty line. Part-time workers still pay full-time rent. Dignity, like art, is for everybody — so we’re on strike for the respect we’re owed!

Stand with workers on strike – pledge to not cross our picket line! Workers have shut it down – now it’s time to take action and bring home the message to the gallery’s management, Board of Trustees, and donors: No Deal means No AGO. 

Picket schedule

No picket lines – AGO workers ratified a new collective agreement on April 26, 2024!

Open Letter: Artists Stand in Solidarity with AGO Workers on Strike

We, the undersigned, are artists, writers, and cultural workers standing in solidarity with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) workers, represented by OPSEU/SEFPO Local 535. AGO workers are on strike fighting for a future at the gallery.

This first-ever strike action at the AGO is nothing short of historic, but the legacy being cemented by the gallery’s current leadership is not one to be proud of. The AGO has awarded generous annual raises to its management but has been unwilling to find a fair deal for its dedicated staff  – those who secure the gallery’s operations and reputation as a cultural cornerstone in this country. During this historic strike, the AGO has opted to hire external “scab” labour to perform bargaining unit work, rather than return to the table and negotiate with integrity.

If there was any doubt that it’s the workers who keep the gallery doors open, that doubt was quickly cleared up: the AGO has been forced to shutter its doors since the strike began. This is not a decision workers made lightly. Though their work may not yet hang on the gallery walls, many of these workers are artists with a deep love for their profession and a commitment to the local and international artistic communities forged around the AGO. But after surviving years of wage suppression, a global pandemic, and a worsening cost-of-living crisis, workers have struggled long enough, while elite executives live extravagantly.

Workers deserve a deal that carries them forward in a future at the gallery: protections against contracting out for part-time workers, ending two-tiered contracts; meaningful wage increases after years of wage repression; and improved scheduling and full-time opportunities for a workforce that has become mostly part-time and precarious.

The AGO may have the power of money on their side – money used to hire scab labour and private security in attempts to break our solidarity – but we have the power of the many.

We, the undersigned, are artists, writers, and cultural workers with a vested interest in the dignity of gallery workers, and we urge the AGO to get back to the table with a fair deal for workers.

Naomi Klein

Avi Lewis

Carole Condé 

Karl Beveridge

Luis Jacob 

A.K. Burns 

Syrus Marcus Ware

Jaime Angelopoulos

Bryce Kanbara

Anastasia Kolas 

Marc Handelman 

Peter Higdon 

Ojo Agi

Rea McNamara

Ericka Walker

Gabrielle Moser

Johanna Householder

Cliff Caines

Jamelie Hassan

Megumi Kokuba

Jennifer Murphy

Kazuki Maejima

Mike Murphy

Siwar Soria

Fran Chudnoff

John Greyson

Ross Winter

Min Sook Lee

Fidelia Lam

Kelly Egan

Jennifer Park

Robert Walsh

Calla Shea-Pelletier

John Goodwin

Sarah Miller

Hamish Pelletier

Milinda Sato

T Kitchell

Andrew Di Rosa

Alize Zorlutuna

Carlina Chen

Lorena Salome

Dorian FitzGerald

Shannon Muegge

Natalie Spagnol

Su Rynard

Mark Bell

Susan McCallum

Olivia Wong

Sam Carter-Shamai

Sara Knelman

Natalie Hume

James Carl

Joy Xiang

Jade Rude

b.h. Yael

Julian Higuerey Nunez

Francisco-Fernando Granados

Sara Wong

Dorota Dziong

Rosemary Heather

Ali Kazimi

Abby Kettner

Diane Borsato

Alina Skyson

Gina Badger

Amy Lam

Monica Tap 

Tara Bursey 

Chantal Khoury 

Charles Campbell 

Golboo Amani 

Lyla Rye

John Dickson 

Brette Gabel 

Sarah Cale 

Katie Lyle 

Meghan Price 

Jasmine Reimer  

Gwen MacGregor 

Rachel Crummey 

Michelle Silagy  

Susan Dobson 

Kim Stanford 

Levin Ifko 

Annie MacDonell 

Sasha Pierce 

Shawn William Clarke 

Charley Youn 

Stephen Stanley 

Jesse McKee

Chris Gehman

Lauren McKinley Renzetti

Allison Kabayama

Lee Horton Carter

Allison Kabayama

Rita MacMillan

Geralyn Manion

Kay Lee

Kristina Kiil

Winnie Larsen

Georgina Walker

Martha Newbigging

Lauren Schaffer

Sarah Mundinger

Alanna Mildred McKnights

Jasmine Loney

Brendan O’Kane

Marek Wojcik

Samara Keeler

Kelsey Vanderhoek

Cheryl Ladd

Vanessa Godden

Melanie Lowe

Margaret Dragu

Melissa Smith

Camille-Zoé Valcourt-Synnott

Laura Grier

Melanie Lowe

Jeanne Randolph

Eli Hirtle

Paul Vermeersch

Jen Chin

Christina Mongeon

Shayna Stevenson

Dee Barkhouse

Jane Cutle

Birdie Gerhl

Heidi Persaud

Simone Blain

Christopher Jacques Lacroix

Lana Filippone

Parker Dirks

Emily DiCarlo

Amy Wong

Jacques Pascal Oule

Bunny Brown

Alex Bird

Kathleen Smith

Ben Noble

Sandra Manzi

Vannina Sztainbok

Darin Yorston

Kristen Dang-Nguyen

Andrew Heule

Robin Magder

Janice Hagan

Sara Michelle Tan

Kerri Sakamoto

Bev Pike

Jacqui Arntfield

Brooklyn Bellmond

Shayne Robinson

Andrew Anastovski

Julie Voyce

Charles Hunter

Stephanie Vegh