In an overwhelming decision, 96 percent of the staff at the Brooklyn Museum in Crown Heights voted to unionize last week. The museum staff will join Local 2110 of United Auto Workers (UAW), a nationwide union that represents multiple other art institutions in the city.
“It’s endemic at museums that people have been low paid, using part-time workers without benefits is ubiquitous,” said Maida Rosenstein, president of Local 2110. “During the pandemic and these closures, a lot of institutions laid people off or furloughed people, and that certainly also led a lot of workers to feel like they have to organize.”
The Brooklyn Museum staff pushed for unionization due to low salaries, inadequate healthcare, and poor job security, issues that were all worsened by the pandemic. Their vote to unionize mirrors a similiar decision by employees at the Whitney Museum in Manhattan, whose staff is now also represented by UAW Local 2110.
“Above all, we are committed to supporting our staff and have respected their right to organize,” a spokesperson for the museum said in a statement. ‘We remain committed to working with the union moving forward.”
UAW Local 2110 also represents employees at the Museum of Modern Art, New Museum, and Tenement Museum, which are all located in Manhattan. The union also represents employees at a number of academic institutions, including Columbia University, New York University, and Brooklyn Academy of Music.