Unionized workers at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) yesterday revealed that they had agreed on a contract with management and voted to ratify it. The resolution comes after fourteen months of negotiating punctuated by a daylong strike this past August as workers at the North Adams, Massachusetts, institution grew frustrated with the wages being offered by the administration.
The terms of the contract have not yet been public, but Maida Rosenstein, president of UAW Local 2110, which represents workers at MaSS MOCA as well as workers at universities and museums throughout New York and New England, told radio station WAMC that it “establishes basic workplace rights that are enforceable under the contract that did not exist before,” noting that disputes with management would now be settled by an outside arbitrator, rather than within the museum. As well, she said, “We were able to win significant equity increases for many, many workers, as well as bonuses that we think will make a difference in terms of the pay for people.”
The roughly 110 MASS MoCA workers unionized in April 2021 and had been seeking a minimum wage of $18 per hour, with annual increases aimed at bringing the minimum to about $20 by year-end 2024. Before the contract was ratified, the average unionized staffer at the museum was paid $17.30 per hour, with about 66 percent of workers being paid below $15.50 per hour. The union noted in an Instagram post that “according to the Economic Policy Institute’s budget calculator for a modest living in Berkshire County [where MASS MoCA is located], a single individual with no children needs to earn $40,000 a year.” In order to achieve this, an employee working a 40-hour work week 52 weeks a year would need to earn about $19.23 per hour.
“This contract is a result of the willingness of each party to listen and genuinely consider the other’s objectives and concerns,” said MASS MoCA director Kristy Edmunds 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.”