Employees at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum are demanding better conditions at the art institution and are close to negotiating as to whether they want to join IUOE Local 30, which is a union that represents art employees in other museums.
“The vote is scheduled for Thursday,” said Director of Special Projects Andres Puerta of Local 30.” The workers are just demanding a voice at the museum similar to what other workers have at other museums throughout New York City that are represented by the Operating Engineers Local 30.”
One of the criticisms of the Guggenheim employees is low wages, according to Puerta.
At the Museum of Modern Art the base pay is $74,532, according to Paysa.com, a website that examines compensation and salaries for different firms.
In comparison, the base pay at the Guggenheim is $49,675, according to Paysa.com.
“With the rising cost to live in New York City – and a lot of the workers do live in New York City, they want wages commensurate with what others workers at similar museums earn,” said Puerta. “Wages haven’t significantly risen at the Guggenheim for many years.”
The wage issue is just scratching the surface in terms of the issues the employees have with the Guggenheim.
“The engineers are obviously concerned about wages and benefits,” said Puerta. “There are also problems with the scheduling practices for the on-call installers.”
Art installers will be scheduled to work a show only to be told not to come in at the last minute, according to Puerta.
“They work very hard and sometimes they accomplish tasks ahead of schedule and it is common practice for the Guggenheim to tell them not to come in for a few days after they scheduled them,” said Puerta. “These workers go on from job to job in the art community, so when they schedule work at the Guggenheim they expect to work everyday that they are told they are needed. When they are told abruptly not to show up they not only lose out on income at the Guggenheim, but they lose out on opportunities that they could of otherwise had.”
Benefits are also a sore subject for both the full-time and on call employees at the Guggenheim.
“The on-call workers do not receive any benefits whatsoever and the full-time workers receive benefits, but they are not as good as the MoMA workers, which are union benefits,” said Puerta. “They just want to improve their benefits.”
A recognition campaign is currently in the process and the vote is scheduled June 27th.