Employees of the New Museum in New York assemble in the institution’s lobby on Friday, January 11. Photo: New Museum Union.

New Museum Staff Forms Union, Votes to Join Local 2110

The employees of the New Museum in New York have succeeded in forming a union. In a vote held earlier this afternoon, thirty-eight staff members voted in favor of the union, while eight voted against it. Ten additional votes were not counted since they were challenged by the museum. The staff has elected to join Local 2110, the United Auto Workers group, which also represents employees at the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Historical Society, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

The much-anticipated vote took place in the theater at the New Museum and was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In response to the outcome of the vote, the museum provided Artforum with the following statement: “The eligible employees considered the pros and cons of unionization and decided in favor of a union. We respect their decision, and will move forward in good faith.”

When a group of the institution’s staffers began the process of unionizing earlier this month, they were surprised to learn that the institution hired the Kentucky-based firm Adams Nash Haskell & Sheridan (ANHS), which boasts of the success of its “union avoidance consultants” on its website. Several staffers spoke with Artforum about the “harsh anti-union campaign” that soon followed.

While the institution said that it worked with the firm only briefly in order to introduce different viewpoints on the benefits of being in a union, the firm’s interference still sparked seventy-five artists, curators, and arts professionals to sign an open letter in support of the movement. Among the signatories were artists Julie Ault, Hannah Black, Nicole Eisenman, Juliana Huxtable, and Martha Rosler; as well as Institute of Contemporary Arts, London chief curator Richard Birkett; professor and Artforum contributor Claire Bishop; New York University professor Fred Moten; and Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery director Colleen Grennan.