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MASS MoCA Staff Plan One-Day Strike to Protest “Lowball” Wages

MASS MoCA Staff Plan One-Day Strike to Protest “Lowball” Wages

MASS MoCA Workers Plan One-Day Strike to Protest "Lowball" Wages

Unionized staff on the Massachusetts Museum of Up to date Artwork (MASS MoCA) voted by a 96% margin to go on strike this Friday, August 19. They plan to picket outdoors a museum entrance from 8am to 6pm that day and urge guests to help their battle for a primary contract.

MASS MoCA’s union, which shaped in April 2021 with United Auto Staff (UAW) Native 2110, has been bargaining with museum management for round a 12 months and is dismayed that its first contract stays elusive. The union seeks a minimal wage of $18 per hour within the contract’s first 12 months, with regular annual will increase that may carry that baseline to roughly $20 per hour by the tip of 2024. The museum’s counterproposal is a minimal wage of $16 per hour, with no wage assurances for 2023 and 2024, in response to the union. Presently, the common wage inside the bargaining unit is $17.30 per hour, with two-thirds of employees making lower than $15.50 per hour. 

“Staff voted overwhelmingly to go on strike as a result of the museum’s provide, significantly for the bottom paid employees, is just unfair,” Maida Rosenstein, president of UAW Native 2110, mentioned in an interview with Hyperallergic. “It’s a really lowball provide, and there aren’t any assured will increase over the lifetime of the contract.”

The Financial Coverage Institute’s household funds calculator estimates {that a} single particular person with no kids dwelling in Berkshire County in Massachusetts would want to make over $40,000 per 12 months to realize a “modest but enough way of life.” The museum’s standing provide equates to a minimal annual wage of round $33,000.

“We have now requested our members to strike as a result of MASS MoCA has not bargained in good religion on a good contract for the staff who make it so profitable,” Maro Elliott, the museum’s supervisor of institutional giving, mentioned in an announcement, including that an settlement would “create a extra accessible, equitable, and simply office.”

Elliott characterised MASS MoCA’s tone towards the union as “antagonistic” and mentioned that representatives advised members of the bargaining committee that “arts and artists come first.”

“All of us love MASS MoCA however we additionally should dwell,” Elliott added. 

Simply months in the past, the museum settled a cost filed by the union for failing to grant a daily annual enhance to unionized staff. As a part of the settlement, the museum retroactively paid out will increase to staff. Native 2110 has moreover filed unfair labor follow expenses with the Nationwide Labor Relations Board for MASS MoCA’s “dangerous religion bargaining” and for a promise it made to present raises to particular person staff on the situation that they efficiently persuade the union to again down on its calls for. 

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Rosenstein echoed Elliott’s complaints about museum management’s negotiation ways, calling them “coercive.” She mentioned that upon studying in regards to the impending strike, museum leaders despatched an “extraordinarily nasty” electronic mail to bargaining committee members encouraging employees to cross the picket line. (When Hyperallergic reached out to MASS MoCA about this electronic mail, Jenny Wright, MASS MoCA’s director of strategic communications and development, represented the e-mail as “an FAQ informing staff of their authorized proper to strike or not strike.”) The place that management was taking, Rosenstein opined, was “extra harking back to Amazon or Walmart than a museum.” 

“Whereas we respect our staff’ proper to strike as a method of expressing their views, we’re additionally upset of their resolution, given the constructive and collaborative setting that we’ve labored to foster throughout our collective bargaining course of with the UAW,” Wright mentioned. Wright furthered that management had made “important progress in the direction of reaching a contract” and was trying ahead “to getting again to the bargaining desk to proceed our negotiations.”

MASS MoCA plans to stay open on Friday, with administration and management filling key front-of-the-house posts. 

“Many people dwell regionally in North Adams. By elevating hourly charges to one thing extra livable, MASS MoCA wouldn’t solely be supporting its staff, however serving to elevate the neighborhood,” Isabel Twanmo, a field workplace consultant, mentioned in an announcement.

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