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The New Museum.
The New Museum.

New Museum Union Files Charges with National Labor Relations Board

Claiming that the New York institution behaved in a “discriminatory and retaliatory” way and violated the National Labor Relations Act by laying off union members, the New Museum Union in late July filed charges against its employer with the National Labor Relations Board.

The charges arrive in the wake of two rounds of layoffs and furloughs that saw members of the union lose their jobs; among these, the group noted on its Twitter account, were its entire steward committee, all of whose members were laid off. The union’s bargaining committee was dispersed via layoffs and furloughs, as were other union supporters.

Represented by UAW Local 2110, the New Museum Union contends that the dismissals violated the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which gives private employees the right to organize and to bargain. The union additionally maintains that the New Museum withheld information about its reopening, inhibiting the group’s ability to bargain, and that it has harassed union members for personal Instagram posts.

The New Museum Union formed in January 2019. Since then, its relationship with its parent has been contentious, with the union alleging hostile behavior on the part of New Museum management. The institution closed temporarily in March, following the Covid-19 lockdown, and in early April furloughed 41 of its roughly 150 workers, many of whom were affiliated with the bargaining unit. On June 30, the museum laid off 18 of the furloughed workers; of these, 11 were union members.

Responding in a statement to the union’s NLRB filing, the museum said, “We don't believe this charge has merit.” The institution last week announced plans to rehire the 23 workers who were not laid off and to extend health care benefits to employees working at least 20 hours a week. While the news was greeted with cheer in some quarters, the union was succinct in its condemnation, tweeting, “We knew it was only a matter of time before the [New Museum] started co-opting our union wins for their PR, but this is appalling.”