Workers at the Whitney Museum in New York voted on Monday to join Local 2110, a division of the United Auto Workers union, carrying on the momentum of a wave of organizing that has swept art institutions across the United States. The 96-1 vote was the culmination of a two-month campaign. The union drive followed two rounds of layoffs at the Whitney since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.
“We are looking forward to sitting down with Whitney Museum leadership to start the bargaining process,” the Whitney union wrote on Instagram. “Celebrations ahead!”
Nearly 200 Whitney workers launched the union effort in May, claiming that employees at the museum lacked job security. Since March 2020, the museum has cut its staff by 20 percent.
In June, Whitney leadership said it would voluntarily recognize the museum’s union—an unusual move that would free workers from having to hold an election in order to join the United Auto Workers group. Workers at the museum subsequently claimed that the Whitney refused to recognize more than 50 of the 185 people seeking to join the group as part of the union.
In a statement, a Whitney spokesperson said, “We welcome the opportunity to develop a constructive working relationship with Local 2110, as we have done with the other unions already in place at the Whitney, and will work in good faith with Local 2110 throughout the collective bargaining process.”
Since workers at the New Museum unionized in 2019, employees at institutions across New York have followed suit. Workers at the Hispanic Society, the Guggenheim Museum, and elsewhere within the city have led successful unionization campaigns. Around 130 full and part-time employees at the Brooklyn Museum are currently seeking to hold a vote on unionization.