New Museum Union

Press Release: New Museum Union Workers Threaten a Strike Over Contract Negotiations

September 27, 2019

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NEW YORK—On Thursday, September 26, members of the New Museum Union (NewMuU—UAW Local 2110) voted 96% in favor of a strike if an agreement is not reached. The Union, composed of professional and technical staff, was formed in January, after an aggressive but unsuccessful anti-union campaign conducted by the New Museum.

After months of negotiations, the Museum and the Union are still far from settlement on several crucial contract provisions, including fair pay, health benefits, seniority rights, and overtime. Low pay is a universal complaint, particularly in light of disproportionately high executive salaries and the Museum’s $89 million expansion campaign.

Barring significant movement by the Museum on these and other proposals, the bargaining committee, as authorized by Union membership, will set a strike deadline. If a contract is not settled by the strike deadline, the New Museum Union will go on strike. “Unfortunately, the Museum’s position has been overwhelmingly at odds with both the needs of its employees and its own mission statement: they have disparaged our proposals for equitable salaries, health coverage for all workers, and necessary union rights,” said Liz Mahan, a Visitor Services Associate at the Museum and a member of the Union’s bargaining committee.

Since the staff at the New Museum unionized in January 2019 with UAW Local 2110—a union that also represents cultural workers at MoMA, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Bronx Museum, the Tenement Museum, and elsewhere—the New Museum has actively opposed the unionization efforts, beginning with their retainment of anti-union consulting firm Adams Nash Haskell & Sheridan ahead of the union vote.

Escalating pressure and coordinated action by the Union has resulted in some movement at the bargaining table. Following an open letter to New Museum director Lisa Phillips, signed by the Union membership, Union members rallied outside the Museum during its June 25 exhibition openings along with hundreds of supporters, who joined in solidarity. Union members have also been distributing informational leaflets to museum-goers during Thursday night pay-what-you-wish hours.

The parties expect to bargain intensively all day today and possibly over the weekend in an effort to avert a strike. If bargaining breaks down, the Union will be calling a meeting of the membership early next week. “The Museum still has a long way to go towards a fair contract,” said Dana Kopel, the Museum’s Senior Editor & Publications Coordinator and a member of the Union’s Bargaining Committee. “If they remain unwilling to meet our demands for just compensation and working conditions, the Union is prepared to strike.”

Press Contacts:
General Inquiries—Dana Kopel, New Museum Union Bargaining Committee Member,
Status of Negotiations—Maida Rosenstein, President, UAW Local 2110,