Licensed heating and ventilation staff at New York museums receive 63% pay rise

The Met

Licensed heating and ventilation staff employed across three museums in New York City, and who are members of the trade union Local 1503, are to receive a 63% pay increase to resolve a long-standing pay and retention dispute.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) staff employed across the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met Breuer and the Met Cloisters have secured the pay rise as a result of year-long negotiations between Local 1503 and museum managers.

The deal will see starting wages for licensed HVAC assistant maintainers increase from $22 (£17.80) to $35 (£28.31) an hour, while the annual base salary for new employees will rise to $72,800 (£58,891.56) from $45,760 (£37,017.55). HVAC supervisors’ pay will increase by 22%, taking average earnings for these employees to $86,000 (£69,569.70). In addition, seven HVAC engineers will take home approximately $81,000 (£65,524.95) a year as part of the pay improvements.

The pay agreement further provides for 14 new positions and a title upgrade to HVAC engineer level A for some employees. Advanced training and testing specific to operating the museums’ ventilation system will also be issued.

Rawle Campbell, president at Local 1503, said: “We were very straightforward with management. The solution is simple: pay [employees] their worth and retention and other problems will go away.

“This is a major win. It’s still not the $42 industry prevailing pay rate, but when [considering] the work we did to increase members’ wages, training and upgrades, and add the union benefits and pension package, HVAC [staff] at the Met are very happy.

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“Management floated the idea of contracting out the work, which DC 37 [part of Local 1503] opposed. That’s when we said ‘let’s brainstorm. You’ve got to raise wages to attract and retain licensed HVAC [employees]’.”

The Met was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.