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Staff at Los Angeles’s Marciano Art Foundation Pushes to Unionize Amid Calls for Transparency at American Museums

A visitor service associate walks through an installation by Yayoi Kusama at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles. 

JAE C HONG/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

With art workers calling for transparency at institutions across the nation, employees at a prominent private museum in Los Angeles have announced plans to form a union.

Around 70 part-time employees at Los Angeles’s Marciano Art Foundation are campaigning to unionize, the New York Times reports. As of Friday, 85 percent of the museum’s visitor services associates have signed cards with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a major union representing employees at over a dozen museums nationwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“We take seriously our role as the foundation’s public face, showing up each day with our enthusiasm, knowledge, curiosity, and humor,” a statement by the union’s organizing committee reads. “United by this belief in the dignity of our work, we’re coming together in one voice, so that we can effectively advocate for changes that will make the foundation a more sustainable and equitable institution for all of its employees.”

The union is currently seeking a new wage structure and increased benefits—similar demands to the ones put forward at New York’s New Museum and Guggenheim Museum, which both voted to unionize in the past year. If the petition at Marciano is approved, the union would represent gallery attendees, docents, and floor leads, and more.

In a statement, the Marciano Art Foundation said, “As an organization, we are supportive of all recommendations to improve the workplace experience and will give this careful attention as we begin our discussions.”

Launched in 2017 by Guess cofounders Maurice and Paul Marciano, the Marciano Art Foundation now owns over 1,500 pieces by artists including Christopher Wool, Glenn Ligon, and Cindy Sherman.

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