Employees at the Brooklyn Museum are taking steps toward forming a union

Lights at dusk brighten the cherry blossoms, the facade and the new front glass entrance and pavilion of the Brooklyn Museum of Art in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 13, 2004. After two years and $63 million, the museum plans to reopen its front entrance and public plaza, Saturday. (AP Photo/Dean Cox)

Employees at another of the largest museums in New York have taken steps to form a union.

This time, the organizing effort takes place at the Brooklyn Museum, where a proposed union would represent a mix of full-time and part-time workers.

The Technical, Office and Professional Union, Local 2110 UAW, submitted a petition to the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday calling for the union to vote.

Maida Rosenstein, the local president, said the proposed bargaining unit includes about 130 employees. Among them are curators, custodians, editors and fundraisers, who have full-time salary tasks; and part-time educators, visitor services and employees in gift shops.

She added that there are others who could be misclassified as independent contractors, rather than as part-time employees.

Natalya Swanson, a curator at the museum who took part in the organizing effort, said workers were concerned about job security, pay equity and a clear path to promotion, among other things.

“People see a lot of benefits in having a more democratic voice in the institution,” she said. “We realize that we have the ability to promote the conditions for everyone in the workplace.”

In a statement, the museum said: “The Brooklyn Museum respects the rights of our employees to consider and evaluate union representation and is committed to a collaborative, fair and respectful process to achieve the best results for our staff. achieved.”

The Brooklyn Museum, seen as one of the leading art institutions in New York, is known for its socially progressive, current and sometimes challenging exhibits.

Last year, when several museums made public statements about Black Lives Matter protests or the death of George Floyd, the Brooklyn homepage contained a message that read: ‘We stand in solidarity with the Black community. We oppose police brutality and institutional and structural racism. ”

A recently opened show “The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience and Resistance in the Art of Our Time,” intends to examine the power and consider ‘the confluence of the devastating effects of the pandemic, civil unrest in the United States, a disputed presidential election and uncontrolled climate change’. ‘

As the pandemic sparked layoffs and plagues at museums across New York City, people at the Brooklyn Museum were among those who lost jobs, Swanson said, though she did not know the exact number of employees affected by layoffs.

If the new union is formed, it will not be the first at the Brooklyn Museum. Local 1502, District Council 37, the American Federation of State, Provincial, and Municipal Employees, all represent some workers there.

Last week, employees at the Whitney Museum formed a union with Local 2110, which already represents workers at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum and the New York Historical Society.


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