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The Riggio Galleries at Dia Beacon in in Beacon, New York. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio/Dia Art Foundation.
The Riggio Galleries at Dia Beacon in in Beacon, New York. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio/Dia Art Foundation.

Dia Art Foundation Staff Vote to Unionize

Just two months after announcing their intention to form a union, workers at the New York–based Dia Art Foundation on September 14 voted 101–6 to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which represents staff at various arts institutions across the country. The Dia Art Union will operate under the aegis of New York’s UAW Local 2110, joining their unionized peers at the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, the Shed, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Dia is unique among those institutions in that it operates galleries and offices in New York City as well as in Beacon, New York, and Southampton, on Long Island; additionally, it is the steward of several massive Land art works scattered around the world, including Walter De Maria’s 1977 The Lightning Field, in western New Mexico; the artist’s Vertical Earth Kilometer of the same year in Kassel; and Robert Smithson’s 1970 Spiral Jetty on the northern shore of Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

Votes were tallied on Zoom by officials of the National Labor Relations Board. Among those welcomed by the union are front-of-house staff, custodial staff, art handler, curators, archivists, and managers. Among the issues named by Dia employees in their drive to form a union were job precarity, poor working conditions, pay inequity and pay well below a living wage, and a lack of career opportunities. Those working at Dia’s large museum in Beacon noted especially the increased cost of living in the area in the wake of the receding pandemic, during which many New York City residents fled to the area and took up residence, pushing up prices. By contrast, wages at Dia remained low and stagnant for many, workers say.

The Dia Art Union will now begin bargaining for a contract with the union, a process that can take up to two years.

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