MASS MoCA Union Goes on Strike for Second Time in Two Years amid Wage Negotiations

Late last week, unionized workers at MASS MoCA, the sprawling contemporary art museum in North Adams, Massachusetts, announced they would begin an “indefinite” strike starting Wednesday. fifaqq

The strike, which 97 percent of the union voted in favor of, comes after five months of unsuccessful negotiations between the union and the museum administration over wage increases.

“Management’s current offer of 3.5% does not keep up with inflation and the rising cost of living, leaving our members unable to cover the expenses of living in Berkshire County,” the union wrote in a statement on its website announcing the strike. “By raising pay to something more livable, MASS MoCA would not only be supporting its employees, but helping lift the community of North Adams and surrounding areas.”

The statement continued, “We unionized because our members love MASS MoCA and we believe in the ability for the Museum to be an equitable place where workers can survive. We are striking for the same reason – we believe the museum can do better and we want our members to feel secure in their ability to work and live.” fifaqq

A spokesperson for the United Auto Workers—MASS MoCA workers are unionized with UAW Local 2110—told the Art Newspaper (TAN) that it is unsure how long the strike will last, but that it hopes it will push the museum “to deliver a fair offer.”

The museum, for its part, believes it already has. In a statement, MASS MoCA said it “is proud to have a fair offer on the table that is also the largest in our wage history … Our minimum wage proposal is higher than any state-mandated minimum wage across the country, and consistent with our prioritisation of wage and equity increases that have resulted in a 39.6% growth since 2018. We are extremely disappointed that the United Auto Workers union has decided to take action against Mass Moca in the form of an indefinite strike in response but are readying our teams to remain open and continue to serve our mission for the public.”

The union told TAN that 58 percent of the museum’s 120 employees earn $16.25 per hour, while full-time employees earn an average salary of $43,600. The union is looking for a $2 per hour increase to the minimum wage and 4.5 percent wage increase overall this year. It said on its website in December that the museum had offered a 2 percent increase, which had been pushed to 3.5 percent as of the strike vote.

MASS MoCa staff voted to unionize in 2021. They ratified their first contract with the museum after 14 months of negotiations, and a one-day strike, in December 2022. During those initial negotiations, the union had been seeking an increase in the minimum hourly rate from $15.50 to $18. fifaqq


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