Labor organizing in the art world gained a big win on Thursday night when workers at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum voted to unionize. Petitioners including art handlers and facilities staff working in construction will join Local 30, a chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers also representing installers and maintenance workers at New York’s MoMA PS1.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” an art handler at the museum told Hyperallergic, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he still feared retaliation from his employers. “Workers were able to unite behind a movement despite extensive attempts to exploit divisions by Guggenheim management. It signals a future ability to create a strong contract that benefits all of us equally.”
The Guggenheim union will represent about 90 workers at the museum. Thursday saw 77 votes counted, with 57 workers voting for the union and 20 voting against it. The decision follows several recent attempts by arts workers to organize for better wages and benefits in an industry notorious for low salaries and little chance of upward mobility.