How do members of a potential union protest their company’s decision to lay them off and effectively close its doors? For former employees at a museum in Los Angeles that were seeking to unionize, the answer was to attempt to return to work.
On Friday, employees at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles who had been laid off earlier this week gathered at the museum in an attempt to come to work. Wearing black, they protested the layoff of at least 60 at the museum and its recent closure. They argue that both developments are directly tied to their recent attempts to form a union. “Union busting is disgusting!” workers said today. The Marciano Foundation has pointed to low attendance as its reason for the moves.
“We are just showing up to work because we don’t recognize the decision as legal or legitimate,” Eli Petzold, a member of the union organizing committee, told ARTnews.
A representative for the Marciano Art Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier in the week, the Marciano Art Foundation let go of the employees via an email. Many were visitors services associates, who help protect artworks and provide information about exhibitions; most had been involved in the union campaign. The layoffs came days after the union drive was announced. A complaint was filed with the National Labor Relations Board, a federal organization that oversees workers’ rights in the U.S. and enforces laws that forbid employers from firing people attempting to unionize.
“Let us in!” workers chanted today at 11 a.m., the time when the Marciano Art Foundation typically opens to the public. Some followed up those chants by shouting, in reference to a solo presentation that was installed shortly before the closure, “Let us see the Alex Israel!” Despite a couple hours of clamor, the gates to the museum remained closed.