On Thursday, full-time and part-time maintenance workers, art handlers, construction personnel, and other employees at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York were invited to participate in a vote deciding whether to join a union. Of the 141 employees eligible to vote, 77 opted to participate; 57 voted to unionize and 20 voted against, confirming the decision to move forward with the labor effort that has been in the works for months.
The workers will be a part of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 30, and the unionization move will allow them to fight for better wages, schedules, and benefits going forward. The Guggenheim vote follows similar moves by employees of other New York City cultural institutions. In January, workers at the New Museum on the Bowery voted to join Local 2110, a United Auto Workers group which is also affiliated with unions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
In a letter to fellow workers ahead of the vote quoted by artnet News, the art services worker Zachary Peterson wrote:
It was clear long before this recent push to unionization that we need a way to bargain collectively with the Museum. [. . .] To put it simply, they have an organization, we need one. [. . .] I sincerely believe a YES vote on unionization will bring about a better future for everyone involved; for the employees in terms of better compensation and working conditions, and for the Museum itself in terms of a better overall product to the viewing public and an even better standing in the art world at large.
After the vote to unionize was formalized, the Guggenheim offered the following statement in support of its workers:
The Guggenheim respects the right of employees to decide whether they wish to be represented by a union and encouraged all eligible employees to vote. The Museum is committed to maintaining a fair, respectful, and positive work environment for all Guggenheim employees, whether or not they chose to be represented by a union.