L.A, 2022-06-28 17:06:37. The American Museum of Fine Arts has approved its first-ever business deal
Staff at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts approved their first job deal on Tuesday, becoming the latest respected art institution to protect workers with a union contract.
The collective bargaining agreement is the first since museum workers voted to join the 2110 Local Auto Workers Union in November 2020, the union and management said in a joint statement.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement on a union contract with the State Department that will provide a more equitable compensation structure and a democratic voice for employees,” union president Maida Rosenstein said in the statement. “By creating collective bargaining rights, State Department personnel are helping to bring about necessary systemic change for museum workers in general.”
The Federation represents 227 administrative, technical, curator, and staff members of the Museum.
New York-based UAW Local 2110 represents workers at dozens of cultural and educational institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Portland Museum of Art in Maine.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, museums had to close and lay off workers, and many employees realized they had little legal protection, said Tom Juravic, a professor of sociology and labor studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The Museum of Fine Arts cut more than 100 jobs early in the pandemic, about half through voluntary early retirement and the other half through layoffs, according to a statement at the time.
Zuravich said museums treated their rank-and-file employees as little more than servants for years, and more workers were joining unions as attitudes changed among younger employees, particularly.
“A new generation is moving into this field, and they are not simply influenced by the position of working in the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world, they need to pay the bills,” he said, noting that many likely have advanced degrees and large student loans.
It is also difficult to justify subsistence wage work when museum leadership is well paid, and many museums’ boards of trustees are filled with society’s most affluent elite, Zuravic said.
And union workers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a one-day strike last November to protest what they described as the stalled contract negotiations. The museum, which houses about 500,000 pieces of art and attracts more than a million visitors annually, remained open during the strike.
In addition to the enhanced benefits for union workers, the museum said, it has made additional investments in compensation and benefits for all employees in the next three years.
“Our employees make the Museum of Fine Arts what it is; they ensure the highest care for the treasures we trust for future generations and we strive to be a museum for all of Boston,” said Museum Director Matthew Teitelbaum.
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