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The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston Staff Vote to Unionize

Employees of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston on Friday voted 133 to 14 to unionize, becoming one the newest bargaining units at a major US arts institution. The staff of the MFA will join the United Auto Workers, which is additionally home to unionized workers of the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum, both in New York.

Voting on the issue, which finally came to the table after more than a year, were employees from thirty departments, including curatorial, conservational, development, visitor and member services, and IT. Votes were counted on Zoom in the presence of twenty observers.

The staff, under the auspices of UAW Local 2110, will summarily begin bargaining on a contract with the museum, which according to the New York Times is challenging the inclusion of more than forty employees, among them full-time curators and conservators. “We cannot call ourselves a world-class museum until all of our employees are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect,” said Kat Bossi, a staffer in the exhibitions department, in an announcement offered by the new union.

Though the museum did not initially support its staff’s efforts to unionize, “this election was important for our staff and for the MFA as an institution,” acknowledged MFA director Matthew Teitelbaum in a statement. “We have said throughout this process that above all, we support our employees’ right to make this decision and we want to ensure all voices are heard. We are pleased that the election played out smoothly and fairly, and we are committed to working with the union moving forward.”

Among the staff of other arts institutions recently voting to unionize were employees of New York’s Film at Lincoln Center, who did so this morning. The new unionizations reflect a movement in recent years of arts institution staff to take the conditions of their employment into their own hands, an often contentious process.