What We're Reading: “You Can’t Eat Prestige”: Brooklyn Museum Workers Demand Better Wages
"On the evening of Thursday, September 28, dozens of Brooklyn Museum union workers lined the institution’s grand entrance, chanting 'overworked and underpaid' and 'ancient art, not ancient wages.' Visitors to the museum’s Open House, an event celebrating the revamped Asian and Islamic art galleries, streamed in through different entrances in an attempt to circumvent the protestors," said Elaine Velie for Hyperallergic.
"Employees at the Brooklyn Museum officially unionized in August 2021 and began contract negotiations with museum leadership in January of this year. While the two parties have reached tentative agreements on some non-economic issues, they have yet to come to terms on healthcare and wages."
"The day before their protest, the union announced that they had filed an Unfair Labor Practices charge against the museum with the National Board of Labor Relations, which oversaw their 2021 election into United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110. UAW Local 2110 represents employees at a score of other other cultural institutions, including the Whitney, the Dia Art Foundation, and the New Museum."
"A museum spokesperson told Hyperallergic that although they cannot comment on the specifics of the ongoing negotiations, the museum has proposed a 9% average wage increase. UAW emphasized that this 9% figure is an average and would leave more than half of the union’s workers with only a 3% raise. This increase would fall far below the sky-high inflation rate — calculated at 8.3% from August 2021 to August 2022.
"'We remain committed to partnering with our staff to achieve an agreement that advances our commitments to wage equity,' a Brooklyn Museum spokesperson said in a statement. 'The museum recently approved a FY2023 operating budget that dedicates nearly $4M in new investments in wage and benefit improvements for all employees,' they added, a result of a 'comprehensive wage equity project.'"