Monday, January 10, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Staff of the Jewish Museum Are Unionizing
NEW YORK, NY—Technical, Office and Professional Union Local 2110 UAW petitioned the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, January 10, 2022, for a union election of professional and non-professional staff of the Jewish Museum. The unit includes art handlers, curators, development staff, educators, visitor experience, retail and other administrative staff. Museum staff members cite job insecurity, wage inequities, hazardous working conditions and the need for more transparent employee policies as among the reasons for organizing a union. The employees are unionizing with Local 2110 UAW, which represents cultural and educational workers across New York and New England.
“Unionization has become a necessity for museum staff. As museum professionals, we’re expected to work long hours for low wages with little assurance of promotional opportunities. In forming this union, I have learned about the working conditions of colleagues from many departments and realized we share some similar concerns. By forming a union, we can join together for conditions that recognize our value as a staff,” said Rebecca Shaykin, an Associate Curator who has worked at the Jewish Museum for over eleven years.
The last few years have seen thousands of workers in cultural institutions decide to unionize. Employees at the Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Hispanic Society of America, Anthology Film Archives, MASS MoCA, Studio in a School, the Portland Museum of Art, and the MFA Boston voted to unionize with Local 2110 between November 2020 and August 2021. Many have cited similar issues of low pay, lack of job security, and little or no transparency about institutional planning throughout the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Bryan Cook, a part-time Art Handler at the Museum works for several museums throughout the city says, “Unions are the only way that art handlers whose work tends to be transitory and project-based can significantly improve conditions. Museums depend a lot on our seasonal labor. They can’t mount exhibitions without us. Yet our pay is low and our working conditions are not always safe. We need to hold these major art institutions accountable for their treatment of workers like us.”
“The impetus to organize came from a place of care. With a union, we can address real workplace issues and concerns,” continues Shaykin. “We want to preserve what we love about working at the museum, but ensure that as staff, we have a voice in our workplace and are part of the future of the Jewish Museum.”