New Museum Union

Press Release: Ninety-Five Workers Laid Off Or Furloughed at New Museum

April 5, 2020

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NEW YORK—On Thursday, April 2, 2020, New Museum director Lisa Phillips abruptly announced that the Museum was laying off or furloughing 48 staff members. Thirty-one are members of the New Museum Union-UAW Local 2110. The additional 17 employees—which include security and maintenance workers—are not represented by a union. In a separate email, the Museum notified unionized part-time art handlers that their scheduled installation work was canceled until further notice, effectively furloughing them also, and bringing the total number of impacted workers to ninety-five. Only five union members remain on staff.

On March 24, prior to the furlough announcement, the union sent a letter to Phillips asking her to maintain staff members on payroll and calling for proportional sacrifices across the Museum, including those at the top. Phillips never responded to the letter. According to the Museum’s announcement, some managers will have unspecified pay reductions. Phillips, whose total compensation in 2018 was publicly reported as $764,738, will take a 30 percent pay cut. No executive employees at the Museum were furloughed or laid off.

The furloughs include part-time staff, like art handlers and visitors services associates, who receive no health benefits from the Museum. Full-time staff who were permanently laid off will lose health coverage after May; full-time staff who were furloughed will be covered through June.

The union has asked the Museum to disclose the financial impact of the cuts, including whether it has reallocated money from its capital campaign fund or endowment to cover payroll costs and whether it will apply for money available to small employers under the federal stimulus package to offset payroll and benefit costs. As of April 5, the Museum has not responded.

Press Contacts:
Maida Rosenstein, President, UAW Local 2110
Alicia Graziano, Organizer, UAW Local 2110