New York’s Jewish Museum unionized workers ratified their first contract. In the domain of cultural institutions, unions just achieved a victory. Overall, working staff managed to secure and improve pay and their time off. There is also an annual increase for participants by 17.5% over the following three-year span. The workers managed to achieve their goal after negotiating for a whole year.
Fair to the Staff and Economically Sustainable
Their organizing attempt started in 2021. The employees joined Local 2110 in a flurry of organizing that started in 2019, joining a number of other museums throughout the town (and abroad). The Local 2110 is a part of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union. “The Jewish Museum is glad to have reached its first collective bargaining agreement with UAW Local 2110 that addresses the needs and concerns of its valued staff”, Darsie Alexander, the museum’s acting director and chief curator, said in an email.
“We feel the three-year contract reflects the shared desire between both parties to reach an agreement that is fair to the museum’s staff while also being economically sustainable for the organization”, Alexander continued. Amelia Kutschbach, an editor at the museum, also gave her statement.
“The whole process of unionizing our workplace has been transformative for us as museum staff, and it’s empowering to know we have legally enforceable rights supporting us and our work”, she said. The agreement with the Jewish Museum is effective as of October 1 and lasts until June 30 2026. The 92-person negotiating unit secured better part-time advantages longer holidays, and more paternity leave.
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The Goal: a Truly Sustainable Career Path at the Jewish Museum
On-call art supervisors and museum instructors will see increases in their hourly pay of 20% and 14%, respectively. Also, beginning workers in the retail industry will earn $21 per hour, with a $1 rise planned for July 2024 and 2025. A labor-management council and an enforceable arbitration process are also established by the terms of the agreement. “I love my work at the museum”, Rebecca Shaykin, a Jewish Museum associate curator, added.
“Our goal in unionizing was to ensure a truly sustainable career path at the Jewish Museum. As a staff, we often felt that our contribution to the museum was undervalued. Unionization is changing that and we look forward to building upon this really strong first contract”, Shaykin said.
This year also saw the successful negotiation of contracts for New Yorks Whitney Museum of American Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in March and August, respectively. The union is currently in the midst of negotiating first-time contracts at the Brooklyn Museum and the Dia Art Foundation, which has multiple locations in the U.S., including in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and Beacon, New York.