Home Arts The largest museum union in the United States ratifies its first contract

The largest museum union in the United States ratifies its first contract

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The unionized workers of the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh ratified their first contract after 18 months of negotiations, with 98% of members voting last month to ratify the contract.

The union, United Museum Workers (UMW), includes employees from the four Carnegie Museum institutions: the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Science Center, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art. It is currently the largest union of museum workers in the United States, with over 500 members. UMW represents members of various departments, including curators, scientists, art managers, educators, gallery attendants, grant writers, and other workers.

The four-year agreement paves the way for many changes, including an increase in the base hourly rate of pay at museums from $12 to $16. The majority of museum workers will see an immediate wage increase, with most ranging from 15 to 35 percent, as will union members who currently earn more than $16 an hour. Other features of the contract include the creation of a health and safety committee, the adoption of anti-discrimination and seniority language, and increased sick leave for part-time workers.

“The increased wages and other benefits of this contract provide financial security for our members,” says Grace Marson, union member and arts educator at the Andy Warhol Museum. “These salaries can both attract new talent and retain the workers we have. This means that workers will no longer have to leave the jobs they love in our museums because they cannot afford them. Importantly, this agreement also recognizes part-time workers, who make up a large part of our bargaining unit. This contract rewards seniority for full-time and part-time employees, finally showing appreciation for years of hard work and dedication.

The former Carnegie Museums Union in 2020. It is part of the United Steelworkers, which represents 850,000 workers in various industries including metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, automotive supply and energy, as well as sectors such as healthcare, higher education, technology and more.

Negotiations for the union’s first contract lasted 18 months. “During the first year of negotiations, progress was very slow,” says Marson. “The union has decided to organize several actions in recent months to put pressure on management and show how passionate and committed we are to improving working conditions in museums.”

UMW’s organizing and bargaining efforts are part of a wave of museum union campaigns across the United States that began several years ago and gained momentum during the Covid pandemic. -19, which again revealed many of the problems cultural workers face today.

In a statement to The arts journal Steven Knapp, President and CEO of Carnegie Museums, said the contract was “a fair and forward-looking agreement that not only benefits union-represented staff, but the entire Carnegie Museums community.” .

Knapp added, “Our talented colleagues, union and non-union, are all deeply committed to the public service mission of our museums, and this contract lays the foundation for us to continue building a flourishing future together.

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