After practically 18 months of negotiations, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has signed an settlement with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30 that can present new advantages to a number of the cultural establishment’s staff.
The three-year collective bargaining settlement covers 22 full-time staff and 145 on-call staffers who make up the museum’s amenities, upkeep and artwork dealing with crews.
Under the phrases of the settlement, salaries will improve by roughly 10 % over the lifetime of the contract, staff is not going to need to contribute to medical insurance premiums and scheduling practices and security procedures might be improved, in keeping with the museum.
Union officers declined to launch the precise phrases of the contract, citing considerations for the privateness of their staff.
“We are pleased to have reached a contract agreement,” Richard Armstrong, the Guggenheim’s director, stated in an announcement. “I am grateful to our skilled colleagues who are members of IUOE Local 30 for their contributions towards fulfilling the museum’s mission. I look forward to an ongoing productive relationship with these talented employees and their union representatives.”
William Lynn, a Local 30 vice chairman, added that the settlement would offer staff with “a real voice in the workplace and protect them from unfair discipline.”
“Our collective struggle to unionize led to negotiating a historic contract that raises working conditions,” Mr. Lynn added. “With the Guggenheim, we will continue to improve standards together.”
In 2019, some Guggenheim staff voted to unionize in what marked the start of a revitalized labor movement in the art world. This unit of the Operating Engineers is the first union local to represent workers at the museum.
In recent years, employees have organized at other major institutions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Negotiations between museums and their workers have frequently become confrontational. When the Guggenheim reopened its doors in September following its temporary shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, employees protested at its front doors by blaring Led Zeppelin and parking a truck equipped with digital screens that flashed messages about stalled contract talks along with photos of museum officials.
“Throughout negotiations, it was clear that management understood the level of work we produce in support of world-class exhibitions, but that they had no intention of compensating us fairly,” Bryan Cook, a union member and part-time staff member who helps to construct Guggenheim exhibits, said in an email. “We have never received what we deserve, but we all deserve this contract.”