Employees at the Storm King Art Center, a sculpture park in upstate New York, announced plans to unionize late last month, the Art Newspaper reported Tuesday. The move follows the non-profit’s announcement in August of a $45 million revamp of its campus.
Staff organizers, who come across numerous departments of the outdoor destination, detailed their plans to join the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), an affiliate branch with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
A charity auction at Christie’s on Friday featuring works donated by Richard Serra, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Maya Lin, and others will raise funds in for the sculpture park’s pending project.
“We hope Storm King Art Center will adhere to its values and promptly agree to a neutral election,” an online petition issued by CSEA organizers that is targeted at the art center’s board of trustees reads. “Storm King’s vision of nurturing “a vibrant bond between art, nature, and people” cannot be meaningfully achieved without respect and inclusion of the people who bring this bond to life day-to-day.”
The unionization is just the latest in a widespread movement by art staffers to unionize at institutions across the art world. This week, union staffers at the Brooklyn Museum protested outside of the museum during an opening of a fashion exhibition by Thierry Mugler in response to stalled negotiations for wage increases and benefits. In March, union workers at the Whitney Museum of American Art staged a protest related to wage issues during this year’s edition of the museum’s hallmark biennial exhibition.
Management at the upstate art center did not voluntarily recognize the union’s organization. Workers subsequently petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to set a date to proceed with union elections.
In a statement first published by The Art Newspaper, a Storm King spokesperson said it will cooperate with proceedings, adding that the art center’s administration “look[s] forward to engaging with our colleagues, the Civil Services Employees Association Local 1000 and the National Labor Relations Board.”