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.”
???????????????????????????????? Wise words below from a former MoMA curatorial assistant. Solidarity! ❤️?✨#Repost @michellemillarfisher with @get_repost #wearemoma #momalocal2110 #museumofmodernart #moma ・・・ Solidarity forever indeed. Hey MoMA, give folks a fair contract // Just one of the issues: Not sure how many folks out there know, but MoMA Curatorial Assistants get four years on the job and then they are dismissed. No promotions. No matter how hard you work. No matter how much institutional knowledge you have accrued. No matter how many all-nighters you’ve pulled. There’s a “review process” that is lip service—no one who has ever gone through it has ever been promoted (I didn’t wait for mine—my mentors were ace and supported me finding a new job). Everyone knows it’s a farce. It has multiple effects, but the one I’ve noticed in particular is that hard working young people feel totally contingent knowing they’re working on a finite contract (and “Project” CAs work without *benefits* too...) and thus don’t plan families, houses, anything—they wait until/if they can get the next job after (and even then, it’s another couple of years of settling in before one feels “safe.”). And that next job is a big “if”—MoMA is a great name to have on your resume but it doesn’t guarantee a next job. The union is fighting for a better situation on this front and on other serious ones like step increases to keep wages up with inflation, and to make sure low paid MoMA staff don’t have horrendously high medical copays. Power to them. Always in solidarity. #treatothersasyouwanttobetreated @momalocal2110 ???