Workers at the Brooklyn Museum Have Ratified Their First Union Contract, Guaranteeing Them Pay Increases
The contract approval came just one day before workers were set to go on strike.
It came down to the wire, but workers at the Brooklyn Museum did not follow through on threats to strike today, voting instead to ratify the institution’s first contract since joining Technical, Office, and Professional Union, Local 2110, part of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union.
“We’re so pleased to have reached an agreement with our UAW-represented staff,” the museum said in an emailed statement. “We believe this agreement reflects the museum’s ongoing commitment to important wage equity investments across the organization, and is the right decision for our staff and the economic sustainability of the museum.”
The new contract is good for three and a half years, with pay set to increase by 23 percent during that time. There are guaranteed annual raises and higher minimum pay rates, starting at $57,630 for full-time staff and $22 an hour for front-of-house house workers. The contract comes with a $3,000 full-time and $500 part-time ratification bonus.
Union members, who number roughly 140, also secured a reduction in their health premium costs, with benefits now available to part-time staff averaging 20 hours per week. Moving forward, the museum will also have an annual $50,000 budget for professional development.
“The hard work of museum staff is behind the museum’s incredible exhibitions and programs,” senior registrar Samantha Cortez said in a statement. “Having a contract that raises our pay rates and spells out legally enforceable rights is an acknowledgment of the important contribution we make as a staff.”
“This agreement will bolster salaries and invest in staff professional development,” associate conservator Lauren Bradley added. “This contract will lay a solid foundation for building long-term professional careers at the museum.”
Organizing efforts at the Brooklyn Museum began in 2021, with staff voting to unionize that August. Negotiations kicked off in January 2022, but hit a snag this past June, with the museum insisting that staff had until the month’s end to approve a “final offer” of an immediate five percent raise, plus three percent annually through 2027—far less than the agreement reached this week.
Following numerous staff protests outside the institutions demanding higher wages, the union announced a November 8 strike deadline two weeks ago. Had the museum gone on strike, it would have been the second New York institution to do so this year, following the Hispanic Society Museum and Library, which reached a contract agreement as part of Local 2110 in May after a historic two-month strike.
It’s been something of a banner year for the union chapter, which also secured successful contracts at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Jewish Museum in March, August, and October.
As part of a nationwide museum unionization effort that took off in 2019, Local 2110’s ranks have swelled in recent years to include New York’s New Museum, Tenement Museum, and the Shed, as well as Maine’s Portland Museum of Art, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (The Museum of Modern Art, New-York Historical Society, and the Bronx Museum in New York are longtime members.)
Local 2110 is still negotiating a first-time union contract for workers at Dia Art Foundation, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood; Beacon, New York; and several other sites across the U.S.
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