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Whitney Museum Workers Forming Union With U.A.W.

Among those following developments at the New Museum was Francis, the Whitney employee. She said she found the New Museum union campaign to be “encouraging” because it provided a sense of “what you can negotiate for and how you can advocate for yourself.”

Since the New Museum effort Local 2110 has come to represent employees at the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn., the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

“We decided to work with 2110 after conversations with other museum organizers,” said Maro Elliott, manager of institutional giving at Mass MoCA. “We really felt like we would be in good hands.”

Earlier this month staff members at the Hispanic Society of America, in Upper Manhattan, sought to form a union with Local 2110. The society, which maintains an extensive collection of Hispanic art, has a board of trustees led by Philippe de Montebello, who served for more than 30 years as the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The society has been closed to visitors since 2017 while it undergoes extensive building renovations, Local 2110 said, adding that staff members had turned to unionization when the society announced it was terminating the employee pension plan.

The Hispanic Society did not respond to email messages requesting comment, but an email addressed to the staff from the society’s director and chief executive, Guillaume Kientz, dated May 17 gave some hint of the institution’s position.

“We ask that you keep an open mind, ask questions, and make an informed decision based on your personal needs,” Kientz wrote. “I am confident that once you learn both sides of the issue you will choose to maintain the work environment that we’ve worked so hard together to create.”

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