Home Arts Brooklyn Museum employees hold a rally at a fundraising gala

Brooklyn Museum employees hold a rally at a fundraising gala

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Tuesday evening (April 25), as Brooklyn Museum trustees, members and other well-wishers arrived for the institution’s annual meeting Brooklyn Artists Ball fundraiser, they were greeted by a picket line formed by unionized museum workers. About 80 union members chanted, held up signs and handed out flyers and buttons to gala guests in a bid to draw more attention to their bargaining efforts. The union has been negotiating with the museum for 14 months and has yet to finalize the details of its first contract. The gala proved to be the museum’s biggest success to date, raising $2.8 million.

“There is no real movement on one of the issues that concern us most, so we are just trying to put ourselves here to raise awareness that this is an issue on the ground,” said said Emily McClain, Object Conservation Fellow and Union. member, said. “We are very overworked, very underpaid. We are the ones who help the museum run.

While many guests quickly crossed the picket line, some spoke briefly with union members, carrying buttons and flyers into the party. The annual gala, which raises funds for the museum, this year honored photographer Carrie Mae Weems. The host committee included Spike Lee, Kehinde Wiley, Cindy Sherman and Judy Chicago (whose famous Dinner installation from 1974-79 is a permanent fixture of the museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art).

Members of the Brooklyn Museum union rally outside its annual fundraising gala on April 25 Anni Irish

“We are frustrated with where we are in the negotiations, but times like this when we see all the support and hear the support and have so many people here really help us on the bargaining committee to keep that motivation going and to keep morale. to fight for this fair deal,” said Owen O’Brien, member of the union’s bargaining committee and manager in the development department. “We’re certainly getting good engagement from the VIPs that have come in.”

The Brooklyn Museum Syndicate formed in August 2021 and includes approximately 130 full-time and part-time workers in various departments including conservation, education and visitor services. He is part of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110, which also represents workers at other museums in New York and the Northeast, including the modern Art MuseumTHE jewish museumTHE Hispanic Society Museum and Library (where the workers were on strike for almost a month), mass mocha and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Contract negotiations with Brooklyn Museum management began in January 2022 and progressed at a “freezing slowness,” according to Maida Rosenstein, director of organizing at UAW Local 2110. Topics on which the union and museum officials remain at odds include key issues such as wages. “The museum’s position in the negotiations is just to belittle people on salaries. Brooklyn Museum salaries have always been low, even in the museum field,” says Rosenstein.

Members of the Brooklyn Museum union rally outside its annual fundraising gala on April 25 Anni Irish

According to a statement from the union, museum executives have offered a three-and-a-half-year contract with general percentage wage increases amounting to 9% by the end of the contract. That’s less than workers at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Bronx Museum of the Arts recently won in their contract negotiations. The union is asking for a general increase of 16.25% over the same period of the year.

In the fall of last year, UAW Local 2110 filed a accusation of unfair labor practices against the Brooklyn Museum with the National Labor Relations Board, which alleged that museum management engaged in unfair bargaining tactics. The union and museum administration have another bargaining session scheduled for this week.

“We respect the rights of our negotiated employees to protest safely and remain committed to reaching an agreement as soon as possible,” a museum spokesperson said. The arts journal.

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