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Members of the New Museum Union in the institution’s lobby. Courtesy of the New Museum union.
Members of the New Museum Union in the institution’s lobby. Courtesy of the New Museum union.

New Museum Reaches Contract Agreement with Union

The New Museum in New York and members of UAW Local 2110 announced that they have agreed on a five-year contract. (On Thursday, September 26, the union voted to strike if an agreement was not reached by this week.) Employees of the institution moved to unionize in January to improve working conditions, including hiring practices, wages, and benefits, despite the union-busting firm Adams Nash Haskell & Sheridan’s attempts to dissuade people from joining the bargaining unit.

According to UAW Local 2110 president Maida Rosenstein, the New Museum originally “put a very low offer on the table” and the strike threat ultimately pushed the negotiations forward. She added, “It’s an excellent first contract.” The museum agreed to introduce a new grade classification system for full-time staffers with minimum salary rates ranging from $46,000 to $68,500; an increase in part-time wages, which now have a minimum of $18–$20 per hour and will be bumped to $20.50–$22.50 per hour by the time the contract expires; a labor-management committee; the reduction of employee healthcare contributions; and an increase in paid time off.

“Days after an overwhelming strike vote, unionized workers of the New Museum have voted to ratify a new five-year contract,” the UAW Local 2110 said. “The agreement was reached after a marathon weekend of bargaining. It substantially improves wages and benefits for members of the union and establishes numerous workplace protections. In the first year of the contract, the wages of full-time staff will increase by an average of 8 percent. Hourly workers in visitor services and the store, who are mostly part-time, will receive average increases of 15 percent.”

In a statement, the New Museum told Artforum that the agreement was reached “following timely and good-faith negotiations that began in late March.” “The museum made a strong offer this summer, and over the last couple months both parties came together to reach consensus. This new contract will benefit the museum staff and set new benchmarks for institutions of our size. . . . The New Museum has invested in our staff and will continue to do so to promote a diverse and thriving culture. We look forward to continuing to work together to advance the museum’s important mission.”