The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and their staff butted heads Tuesday night at their annual “Party in the Garden” gala. While trustees and VIPs walked in to the event, dozens of the museum staff were outside leading a protest, picketing signs that read “Modern Art, Ancient Wages” and “MoMA, Don’t Cut Our Healthcare.”
The museum, whose endowment and investments were worth $838.9 million in June 2014, up from $706.3 million a year earlier, according to the institution’s financial statements for fiscal year 2014, is demanding that the staff take on addition healthcare costs.
MoMA workers and the United Auto Workers Local 2110, which represents more than 200 MoMA employees, organized the protest in response to the new contract negotiations. Local 2110 drafted a leaflet, explaining their concerns, that was handed out by MoMA workers at the Tuesday night’s protest.
Close to 100 protestors came together near the entrance to MoMA’s education and research building on West 54th Street by the time the protest began at 6pm. As party goers started coming their chanted slogans began, “No Contact, No Peace,” “No Give-Back,” and “Cut Our Healthcare, That’s Not Fair.”
“We’re expressing our collective revulsion for the medical givebacks they’ve put on the table; we want the museum to believe us and to know that we cannot afford what they put on the table,” Danny Fermon, a MoMA librarian and chairperson of the Local 2110 unit at the museum, informed Hyperallergic reporter. “But they’re not just going to believe the committee of activists that’s on the negotiating team only. They’re gonna need to hear it from the members, and the members have shown up tonight in larger numbers than I ever expected in this kind of weather.”
The museum has been in negotiations with Local 2110 since early May. Their fifth negotiation meeting was the morning of Wednesday June 3. Though the workers’ contract was supposed to expire on May 20, due to the circumstances the museum and union have agreed to extend it by 30 days, through June 20.
The MoMA has kept quiet about the negotiating process thus far, however in an effort to reach out a spokesperson for MoMA sent Hyperallergic the following statement: “The Museum of Modern Art has an outstanding staff. At this time, we are in the process of negotiations with Local 2110, and are optimistic that we will reach a positive outcome for the staff and all concerned.”