Chanting the phrase “Ancient Wages, Modern Art!” and singing the labour song Solidarity Forever, employees of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York led a protest today (6 August), ahead of tomorrow’s union negotiations with the museum over a new contract. As reported by Artnews, protest began in the lobby and eventually around 100 employees gathered in a march around the block.
The protest occurred on the eve of closed-door negotiations between the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers Local 2110 union, which represents around 250 museum staff members, and MoMA. Employees, who have been working without a contract since 20 May, also led a protest on 31 May on the occasion of the museum’s swanky annual Party in the Garden gala fundraiser. They are seeking mandatory salary increases for time of service, better health care and more job security for junior employees.
The negotiations come during the museum’s $400m expansion, due to open in 2019, and according to the union's president Maida Rosenstein, fewer than 50% of museum employees who have had to work extra hours for the expansion project are eligible for overtime. Rosenstein has suggested that a strike—which last occurred at the museum in 2000—is not off the table. But, she tells The Art Newspaper: “We hope that the museum gets the message that they need to substantially improve their offer.”