Front-of-house staffers at the Shed, the contemporary arts center which opened in New York in April of last year, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday and are hoping to unionize. The institution is the latest in a wave of arts museums that have launched union drives including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Maida Rosenstein, president of Local 2110 UAW (United Auto Workers), told Hyperallergic, who first reported the news, that the employees, which include front-desk workers, gallery guides, ushers, and others representing the experience associates department, are organizing to achieve better pay and working conditions. The staff members began holding meetings about their options last summer and ultimately decided to make a union push.
“There are thousands of workers in cultural institutions in the arts and education in the city that are unionized, and it really should be considered the norm for workers to be able to unionize without interference from their employer or delay tactics,” Rosenstein said. “Many workers in arts and cultural institutions and in publishing work very hard for very little compensation, yet make an essential contribution. It’s time to change the dynamics.”
Located in Manhattan’s new Hudson Yards complex, which was spearheaded by the real estate developer Stephen Ross, the Shed recently came under scrutiny when Ross threw a high-profile fundraiser in support of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Its affiliations with Ross, who was a board member of the venue at the time, led A.L. Steiner and Zackary Drucker to quietly pull works from an exhibition at the Shed last summer. Ross recently stepped down from the board to “focus on his other philanthropic activities.”