WHAT: Strike Deadline at the Brooklyn Museum
WHEN: Wednesday, November 8, 2023
WHERE: In front of the Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway
October 27, 2023 – Unionized staff of the Brooklyn Museum, members of Local 2110 UAW, have set a strike deadline and will begin picketing the Museum on Wednesday, November 8, if no agreement on a contract is reached before that date.
“We have been trying to negotiate a fair contract with the Museum for two years and at this point, we feel we have no choice but to set a strike deadline,” said Elizabeth St. George, an assistant curator of Decorative Arts. “I love the Museum and what I do, but it’s a struggle to make ends meet.”
The staff’s union, Local 2110 UAW, has been in negotiations for a first union contract since January of 2022 and has held repeated protests at the Museum over its low wage offer and unfair labor practices. Workers say salaries at the Brooklyn Museum have been stagnant for years and point to an exodus of employees over the last two years.
“Low salaries and lack of real career development are making long tenure at the Brooklyn Museum unsustainable,” said Lauren Bradley, an associate conservator who has worked at the Museum for more than 8 years. “I’ve seen several extremely qualified professionals leave my department for better offers elsewhere. We’re responsible for the care of an incredibly important collection of more than a million objects; but, as a staff, we’re undervalued.”
The Union has filed numerous unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the Museum’s repeatedly changing employment terms without notice or bargaining and its assignment of union work to non-union workers, temporary staff and contractors. The Labor Board has issued a formal complaint against the Museum which is scheduled to go to trial before an administrative law judge.
“It’s not only that our salaries are low,” says Samantha Cortez, a Senior Registrar. “It’s the bad faith the Museum has exhibited. They’ve shown a real lack of respect for the contribution of the staff and for the union bargaining process itself. Our hard work is behind the Museum’s incredible exhibitions and programs but they don’t acknowledge it meaningfully.”
The Union has proposed increases totaling 19.5% over a four-and-a-half-year contract. The Union also wants part-time staff, including the museum’s educators, to receive the same percentage increases as other staff. The Union also wants the right to have an outside, neutral arbitrator review disputes over position grade levels and guaranteed minimum raises when an employee is promoted.
“Museum staff need to be recognized and compensated fairly,” says Owen O’Brien, Development Campaign Manager. “We work hard every day and we make the wonderful exhibitions and programs of this Museum possible.”
Staff of the Brooklyn Museum voted overwhelmingly to unionize in August 2021 with Local 2110 of the UAW, a technical, office and professional union that represents workers in museums, cultural institutions and universities. In recent years, thousands of museum workers have organized and fought for higher wages. Local 2110 recently settled successful contracts with the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, and the Hispanic Society Museum and Library.
Communicate with: Maida Rosenstein, Director of Organizing, [email protected], 917.495.8492