MoMA Workers Vote ‘Overwhelmingly’ for New Contract
Earlier today, MoMA’s workers voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of a new contract.
The vote heads off the threat of a strike, and puts an end to several weeks of unrest at the museum that included a protest outside the museum’s June 2 “Party in the Garden” and a confrontation by some 100 workers of MoMA head Glenn Lowry last week, as negotiations came down to the wire.
According to one MoMA employee familiar with the new contract, it does involve some give backs. However, management’s most severe attacks on workers’ healthcare benefits have been resoundingly defeated.
Among other things, the union’s post-vote press release states that, “The contract will preserve 100% paid health coverage for all employees with single coverage, and will reduce the cost of family coverage for most employees.”
Pay had also been an issue for Local 2110’s 280-strong membership, with workers organizing around the slogan, “Modern Art, Ancient Wages.” Earlier this month, librarian and union rep Danny Fermon explained to artnet News where the two sides stood at the start of negotiations:
We asked for six percent increases for everybody, or $3,000 flat, whichever is greater. For our lowest paid employees, who earn $30,000, a $3,000 amount would be a 10 percent increase.
They came back with their offer: For the lowest paid people, three percent or $2,500, whichever is greater, and a 1.5 percent increase thereafter for two years. The higher paid people would start out with 1.5 percent raises, and then keep rising at 1.5 percent for the next three.
Compare this to the terms as outlined in the press release:
The contract calls for employees to receive raises of between 3 and 10.4% in the first year of the contract, with about half the membership receiving at least 5%. All employees receive additional 3% increases in 2016 and 2017.
In a comment left on Local 2110’s Instagram feed earlier today, the union states that some 95 percent of the membership had voted to approve the terms.
The full text of the press release is below:
MoMA Professional and Administrative Staff Ratify New Three Year Contract
The professional and administrative staff of the Museum of Modern Art, members of Local 2110 UAW, voted overwhelmingly today to approve a new three year contract. The contract calls for employees to receive raises of between 3 and 10.4% in the first year of the contract, with about half the membership receiving at least 5%. All employees receive additional 3% increases in 2016 and 2017.
From the outset of negotiations, the cost of health care was the biggest issue with the Museum demanding higher premium contributions from employees, and higher out of pocket costs for benefit usage. Employees engaged in several major protests against the Museum’s demands including rallying outside the Museum’s major fundraiser, organizing a surprise walk-in by over a hundred workers to present MoMA’s Director with a petition signed by over 90% of the membership, and a social media campaign that drew widespread public attention. In the end the Museum altered its position on health care substantially. The contract will preserve 100% paid health coverage for all employees with single coverage, and will reduce the cost of family coverage for most employees. In addition, the Museum agreed to withdraw its demand for in-network mandatory deductibles and reduced its demand for employee contributions toward hospitalization costs from $3000 to $1500. The Museum also agreed to contribute between $200 and $800 annually toward out of pocket medical costs for all employees earning $75,000 or less (over 90% of the union membership). The new contract will also improve child care and tuition benefits for employees.
The union membership is composed of professional and administrative employees including curators, conservators, registrars, librarians, archivists, graphic designers, editors, salespersons, accountants and visitor services staff.
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