After 16 months of negotiations, unionised Whitney Museum employees ratify their first contract

Date:

After 16 months of negotiations, unionised Whitney Museum employees ratify their first contract

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, March 07, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • The partnership, part of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110, represents about 200 workers at the Whitney.

  • The new deal, which incorporates many of the features sought by the union, is in effect until June 30, 2026. Minimum wage hikes and general wage increases for all unionised employees are hard-won components of the deal for the union.

  • This will result in an average 15% pay increase; under the new contract, employees earning the minimum hourly rate of $17 will now be paid $22, retroactive to January 1, 2023.

  • “The Whitney Museum of American Art is thrilled to have reached an agreement with UAW Local 2110,” a museum representative adds.

  • Employees at the Whitney petitioned to create a union as part of UAW Local 2110 in May 2021, and the museum willingly recognised the league the following month.

Unionized workers at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the museum’s administration announced on Monday (March 6) that the union had ratified its first contract after more than a year of negotiations. The partnership, part of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110, represents about 200 workers at the Whitney. The new deal, which incorporates many of the features sought by the union, is in effect until June 30, 2026.

Minimum wage hikes and general wage increases for all unionised employees are hard-won components of the deal for the union. This comprises either a new minimum pay grade or a 5% raise, whichever is higher. This will result in an average 15% pay increase; under the new contract, employees earning the minimum hourly rate of $17 will now be paid $22, retroactive to January 1, 2023. These workers will reach $24 per hour by the end of June 2025. Upon the contract’s approval, museum employees will earn a $1,000 one-time incentive.

The contract also extends many of the advantages earned by members to temporary workers, stating that they would be paid the same minimum hourly rate as regular personnel, paid holidays and priority placement for permanent jobs as they become available.

“We’re happy to have struck an agreement with the museum,” Ramsay Kobler, a curatorial research associate at the Whitney and union bargaining committee member, tells The Art Newspaper.

“The Whitney Museum of American Art is thrilled to have reached an agreement with UAW Local 2110,” a museum representative adds. “After negotiating in good faith for several months, we have finalised a contract that suits the best interests of our personnel. We look forward to a long and fruitful working partnership with 2110.”

Negotiations have been ongoing and have stopped at various stages since the union’s creation. As a result, the league organised multiple rallies and actions, including leafleting at Whitney’s Art Party earlier this year, the benefit banquet last year, and the VIP preview of the 2022 Whitney Biennial.

Following a wave of layoffs and furloughs in the museum sector at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic (including at the Whitney) and amid widening disparities in pay and job security (among other issues) in the sector, many cultural workers at institutions across the United States have taken steps to form unions and collectively bargain for better working conditions.

Employees at the Whitney petitioned to create a union as part of UAW Local 2110 in May 2021, and the museum willingly recognised the league the following month. The same union also represents employees at the Museum of Modern Art, Mass Moca, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Brooklyn Museum in the northeastern United States.

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