Unionized workers at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, voted to ratify their first contract following a short strike led this past summer and months of back and forth.
“After 14 months of bargaining, our members voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying our first contract! We’re proud of having secured a strong agreement that we can build on,” a post from the union read.
The MASS MoCA staff voted to join Local 2110 UAW, which also represents museum workers at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim, in 2021. The workers were demanding a minimum hourly rate of $18 for the first year of the contract, with increases in 2023 and 2024.
At the time, two-thirds of the staff were making $15.50 an hour. After several rounds of failed negotiations, which the union claimed were often done in bad faith, unionized MASS MoCA workers staged a one-day strike in August.
While details are not yet available, a statement from MASS MoCA confirms wage increases, as are professional development reimbursement, a bonus for full-time employees eligible for retirement, and a “LemonAid Fund,” a mutual aid fund set aside for employees facing “sudden hardship.” Some of these benefits went into effect this past October, but are now being formally accepted as part of the union contract.
“This contract is a result of the willingness of each party to listen and genuinely consider the other’s objectives and concerns,” MASS MoCA director Kristy Edmunds said in a statement. “The way forward requires a shared optimism for the future, and the ability to meet our field-wide challenges with creativity and care.”
The MASS MoCA employees were not the only museum workers to lead a strike this year. A much longer one was waged by the union of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where workers striked for a total of 19 days this fall.
A strike also recently took place at the New School, which includes the Parsons School of Design, one of the nation’s top art schools. Workers there announced that they were be pausing their strike after a tentative agreement was reached with the university. The strike saw 1,300 active adjunct professors—nearly 80 percent of the teaching faculty at the New York school—striking for three weeks, making it the longest-ever adjunct faculty strike in the history of the United States.