MoMA PS1 Art Handlers and Maintenance Workers to Stage Action in Protest of Unfair Wages

On Sunday, installation and maintenance workers belonging to the union Local 30 will stage an action to bring attention to their ongoing wage negotiations at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens, reports Artnews. MoMA PS1 installers are paid between $20 and $30 hourly, while their Manhattan counterparts at MoMA can make up to $47 an hour, according to Local 30. The union is currently negotiating with the museum’s management to raise the rates at MoMA PS1 to between $30 and $40 for their new contract; the last one expired on October 31.

“It’s just pretty amazing that an institution that, on its facade, is trying to be a progressive institution or promote progressive ideas, and yet is refusing to pay a living a wage to workers in New York City,” Chris Haag, a shop steward at MoMA PS1 who represents Local 30 at the museum, told Artnews. “Most installers are artists—they have their own art practices. . . . With rising rent prices and people getting squeezed out, the future of New York as a viable place for arts and artists is getting dimmer and dimmer. If MoMA PS1 can’t pay a living wage to the artists who work there, then who can? Who will?”

The union has held five meetings with PS1 management, according to Haag, but said the situation has become “toxic.” Local 30’s lead negotiator, Robert Wilson, said: “We’re fighting for fair wages, and also to protect our work . . . We don’t believe we should have to have a fight like this, but [the museum has] unfortunately taken a hard position.”

The museum said in a statement: “MoMA PS1 has a terrific team of installation and maintenance staff, and we are committed to reaching a new contract with Local 30. We continue to make progress in negotiations, and have our next session scheduled for later this month. It’s been a productive process and we’re confident we’ll arrive at an amicable resolution.”  

The union’s next meeting with the MoMA PS1 administration is scheduled for November 29.