MFA Boston workers vote to unionise in sweeping vote

An overwhelming 90% of employees voted to join the United Auto Workers Local 2110

Museum of Fine Arts Boston Photo: Omar David Sandoval Sida

With an overwhelming 90% majority, workers across more than 30 departments at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston have voted to unionise with the United Auto Workers Local 2110. Staff members sent mail-in ballots between 21 October and 20 November, when the final 133 to 14 tally was counted. Local 2110 is now the collective bargaining unit for front-of-house employees as well as curators, designers, and educators, among other staff.

Organising discussions began last summer around wage increases, job security, affordable healthcare, and better relations with administrators and HR. “Staff have been requesting changes, more transparency, a compensation study and its results, a plan for diversifying our workforce, for many years,” said development officer Emma Rose Rainville. “In a large institution like the MFA, prioritization is always a struggle.”

The museum’s security staff are already represented by the Museum Independent Security Union, which negotiated a new four-year contract in 2016, but that ended this June. The new MFA union is the first that will represent employees across departments, and follows a growing trend of workers at American institutions creating “wall-to-wall” unions.

“We cannot call ourselves a world-class museum until all of our employees are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect,” said Kat Bossi, a staffer in exhibitions.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, MFA management enforced multiple rounds of layoffs and furloughs. Union officials says they will start negotiating on a new contract despite pandemic-related difficulties, and employees will be able to request information on their efforts as the next wave approaches.