New Museum Union

Press Release: Eighteen More Workers Laid Off from New Museum

July 8, 2020


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NEW YORK—The morning of Tuesday, June 30, New Museum management notified the New Museum Union of further layoffs. The Museum laid off 18 people who had previously been furloughed, of which 11 were union members. The New Museum Union’s unit chair and both stewards were among those laid off. The Museum has refused to identify the non-union employees whom they laid off.

Several months ago, the New Museum announced cuts of 10–20% for executives and a 30% reduction to the director’s salary, but did not disclose the duration of these cuts. To our knowledge, there have been no further cuts to executive salaries, and no executives have been laid off. At a time when cultural institutions are under increased scrutiny for their hiring and retention practices, the Museum continues to offload the brunt of the financial impact onto its lowest-paid employees. Their newly formed working group for racial equity at the Museum includes only one non-managerial employee and not a single representative from the departments in which the majority of Black and brown employees work: Visitor Services, the Store, Security, and Maintenance.

The Union has previously proposed that furloughed employees return to work August 1 and that recall rights for laid-off employees—which are currently one year, per our collective bargaining agreement—be extended due to the pandemic. The Museum has rejected these proposals. Following our proposal to extend furloughed employees’ healthcare for the duration of the furloughs, the Museum has said they will continue healthcare coverage for newly laid off and furloughed employees only through August.

The New Museum continues to refuse to share any information regarding possible scenarios for their reopening plans. The only information they have shared with the Union in this regard is that the Museum does not plan to close permanently.