New Museum Union

From Jonas Staal

May 28, 2020

Statement read by Jonas Staal in support of New Museum Union

A message from the New Museum Union:

On April 2, the New Museum abruptly announced that they were laying off or furloughing 48 staff members, including many of their lowest paid workers. The Museum also notified unionized part-time art handlers that their scheduled installation work was canceled until further notice, effectively furloughing them as well, and bringing the total number of impacted workers to ninety-five. Out of a bargaining unit of 84, only seven union members remain on staff.

The furloughs include part-time staff, like art handlers and visitor services associates, who receive no health benefits from the Museum. Full-time staff who were permanently laid off will lose health coverage in three days. Those who were furloughed will be forced to cover their entire premiums after June. Meanwhile, we’re still in a pandemic.

The New Museum has shared no information with furloughed staff members about when we might be returning to work and has consistently refused to disclose the financial impact of the cuts to the union. While we appreciate their willingness to host conversations like this one about how to build more inclusive and ethical institutions, we can’t help but contrast it with the extreme disregard they’ve shown for their most precarious employees. How can the New Museum reimagine governance when they continue to put the lives and livelihoods of their workers at risk?

Watch the statement read by Jonas Staal on the New Museum Union's Twitter here.

Deep Future: Building Lateral Institutions
Hosted by the New Museum and A Blade of Grass, this virtual conversation between artist Jonas Staal and Laura Raicovich, Interim Director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, discussed the rationale for artists' roles in creating new models for radical democracy. For more information about the event, visit the New Museum's webpage here.