Rachel Ichniowski talks to three representatives from the New Museum Union’s Bargaining Committee—Dana Kopel, Francesca Altamura, and Gabe Gordon—about the decision by staff to form a union, and the details of their first five-year contract, which was agreed upon with the museum on October 1, 2019.
Staff at the New Museum voted to unionize in January 2019. The formation of the union, which is a part of UAW Local 2110, has been closely watched amid calls for greater transparency in art and culture sector workplaces.
The New Museum employs over 140 people, and counts over 70 staff members as part of the union.
New Museum Union’s Mission Statement:
“When Marcia Tucker founded the New Museum in 1977, she envisioned an institution that did away with hierarchies—not only in the art exhibited, but in the structure of the museum itself. Her aim, as she wrote in 1990, was to work toward “a collaborative, self-critical, and ‘transparent’ organizational model.” As the New Museum Union, we are committed to Tucker’s vision, and to the Museum’s mission today. We have organized as the Organizing Committee of the New Museum Union (NewMuU of UAW Local 2110) because we take great pride in the Museum’s legacy and we are committed to its success, its health, and its future growth.
As a museum and as a community, we have always championed diversity, equity, and progress. This distinguishes us as an art institution historically and, we hope, today as well—both in New York and globally. Our mission centers intersectional feminist concerns and cross-cultural dialogue, and our exhibitions, programs, and initiatives aim to model inclusivity and access. We ask, above all, that these ideals be mirrored in the Museum’s hiring and staffing. We believe that fair compensation for all workers throughout the museum is essential to ensuring its diversity: salaries, wages, and benefits at the museum must be sustainable for everyone, regardless of the privileges afforded them by race, class, or gender.” Read more here.