After a year of negotiations sparked by a scrapped pension plan, workers at New York City’s Hispanic Society Museum and Library have decided to go on a strike that begins on Monday, March 27th and, for now, will last indefinitely, Artforum reported Thursday.
The forthcoming strike comes just days before the Hispanic Society was due to reopen the doors to its main building for the first time in six years while the Beaux Arts building underwent a needed $20 million dollar renovation.
In 2021, Hispanic Society workers unionized with UAW Local 2110 which also represents workers at the Brooklyn Museum, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum, and the Dia Foundation as well as several universities and non-profits.
According to a press release from the Union, Hispanic Society workers agreed to a wage lower than that of comparable institutions because they were provided with benefits including a pension and health care. Their unionization was a direct result of the museum’s board of directors offering a contract that removed both the health care coverage and the pension plan while keeping the wages stagnant.
“The Hispanic Society’s offer to us is unfair. We’re a small, dedicated staff that has worked under difficult physical conditions with constant staffing shortages,” Javier Milligan, a librarian at the museum said in a press release.
The Union also claims that the museum has actively fought organization attempts by “by threatening to subcontract out positions and by misclassifying positions as temporary,” and that workers “have repeatedly complained about workloads, lack of staffing and concerns about safety of the collection.”
“Many of us stayed at the Hispanic Society accepting lower salaries than what we would earn elsewhere because of the collegial working environment and common sense of mission to a truly extraordinary collection,” Monica Katz, a retired former Collections Manager who is heavily involved in union efforts, said in the release. “Unfortunately, the new administration doesn’t seem to value our dedication.”