Professional and administrative staff at The Museum of Modern Art (Moma), who are members of the union UAW Local 2110, have voted to approve a new contract that will see the lowest paid quarter receive a pay rise of 4% or higher.
The agreement follows four months of negotiations and was reached on 16 August 2018, following what the union states was a substantial change in position from the museum due to a series of demonstrations over the summer of 2018. This included picketing outside Moma’s annual ‘Party in the garden’ fundraiser, and culminated in a walkout on 6 August 2018.
Maida Rosenstein, president of the union, said: “We attribute the museum’s retractions [of certain terms] in no small part to the dedicated efforts and perseverance of our members, who have spent months volunteering their time to our activism and turning out in record numbers to participate in collective actions.”
Under the new five-year contract, employees outside of the lowest paid 25% will receive raises of either 3% or $1,600 (£1240.87), whichever is greater, retroactive to 21 May 2018. All employees will then receive additional 3% pay increases in the second and third years, and 3.5% in the fourth and fifth. The contract also preserves seniority step increases for all employees.
Chelsey Swilik, administrative assistant in visitor engagement at Moma and member of the union bargaining committee, said: “The museum wanted to get rid of our step system, which is the primary way longer-term employees get their salaries to a livable rate in New York City. Had [it] succeeded, it would have lowered the compensations standards for all Moma employees.”
The terms also include protection against rising health benefit costs, preserving single coverage without any employment contributions and ensuring that workers’ share of family coverage costs will not increase as a result of the negotiated raises. This provision is retroactive to 2016, and some employees will in fact see their required percentage of premium sharing reduced.
Carla Caputo, associate registrar, collections at Moma, explained: “Containing our out-of-pocket healthcare costs is a primary issue for the union membership because we’ve been seeing our wage increases eroded by the rising cost of healthcare.”
The new contract also grants union stewards time to meet with new employees as part of their orientation, to provide information about the contract and rights as employees.
Athena Holbrook, union steward and collection specialist, said: “This provision will help us immediately engage new members and offer ways to get involved with their fellow union members as we strive to foster a community of empowered workers throughout the museum and in the art world at large.”
A Moma spokesperson said: “Moma has an extraordinary staff and we are pleased with the fair and amicable resolution we reached with Local 2110. We believe this five-year contract will keep our dedicated staff and the museum on a path of financial stability and future growth.”