In an apparent first for an institution on the National Mall, the people who staff the food courts at two Smithsonian museums will become union members. A reported 220 will join the food service industry union Unite Here.

The workers are not federal employees, but rather work for a food service company contracted by the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History. Nevertheless, it gives Unite Here a foothold in museums.

"People have wondered whether this is just a media-driven phenomenon," Paco Fabian, a spokesman for Good Jobs Nation, an advocacy group, told the Washington Post. "Here's an example of something that is tangible."

The American Federation of Government Employees represents other Smithsonian workers.