Mass MoCA employees voted in April last year to unionize with Local 2110 UAW, a technical, office and professional union. The group at Mass MoCA includes about one hundred full-time and part-time employees who work in various roles throughout the museum.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Union workers at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art are on a one-day strike Friday, looking for better pay and working conditions from the museum.
The employees are picketing outside the museum premises until 6 p.m., when it closes. They seek a minimum contract of $18 per hour for the first year of their contract and pay raises in 2023 and 2024.
"We are striking today in our fight for a fair contract," said Maro Elliot, a member of the union's negotiating committee. "We're fighting for a living wage and fair working conditions. We believe that striking shows our solidarity and our commitment."
About 96 percent of the unionized employees voted in favor the one-day strike, said representatives.
"We're hoping to increase that minimum to $20 an hour in the last year of our contract," Elliot said. "Unfortunately, Mass MoCA's offer right now is at $16 an hour, with no guaranteed annual increases through the life of our contract."
Earlier this summer, the museum settled a charge filed by the union for not granting regularly scheduled annual increases to unionized employees. The union later filed another charge against the museum, claiming it offered raises to specific employees if the union accepted lower wages.
When asked for comment on the strike, Mass MoCA's Director Of Strategic Communications and Advancement Jenny Wright said the museum will still be open throughout the day. She said she hopes the striking workers are respectful to guests and others.
"It's their right to strike as a way to express their views," she said.
Aside from the better pay and working conditions, Elliot said the union also wants several other things to come from the strike and negotiations. Some of these things, she said, are already a part of the contract.
"Other things we're trying to achieve through our contract are the maintenance of current benefits. Our health insurance, our retirement," she said. "So there are a number of things that we actually would like to memorialize and keep the same."
Elliot said support from the community has been strong during the protest so far. Bright Ideas Brewing, based on the museum campus, announced on Facebook that it will be closed until the protest ends at 6 p.m. in solidarity with the striking workers.
"We're hearing a lot of honking, people from the community have joined us," she said. "There's a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Donations are coming in for our workers' fund. We're excited to be out here and really grateful for the support."
UAW Local 2110 represents several other museums and cultural institutions in the Northeast, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Portland Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
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