An overwhelming majority of Dia Foundation workers voted to form a union today (September 13). The vote comes two months after staff at the institution announced their intention to unionise. The vote count took place via Zoom via the National Labor Review Board (NLRB), with Dia staffers monitoring the tally of their mail-in ballots remotely. The final tally: 101 in favor of forming a union, six against.
The new union will be part of the United Auto Workers (UAW), one of the oldest unions in the United States, which also represents workers at the New York Historical Society, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Museum of Modern Art , the New Museum, the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, among others. Dia is slightly abnormal among institutions due to its sprawling geographic footprint. In addition to office and gallery space in Manhattan, he operates an extensive museum in Beacon, New York, a small gallery in the Hamptons, and is the custodian of a range of large-scale, art-specific art projects. site and Land art stretching from New York to New Mexico, Utah and Germany, including Robert Smithson’s iconic spiral jetty (1970).
“Dia respects our staff’s decision to unionize and we look forward to working constructively and openly with Local 2110,” a spokesperson for the foundation said. The arts journal.
Among the issues that prompted Dia staff to start unionizing were calls for more job security, better wages, more transparency and a commitment to diversity in the workplace. , among others. Many of these same factors have prompted museum workers across the United States to seek union representation.
Maida Rosenstein, the former president of UAW Local 2110 who is now responsible for organizing and negotiating the first contracts, witnessed the vote and its resounding result. “People are very excited and they’ve worked very hard to get here,” she said. “It’s a very strong vote, it’s consistent with what is happening with cultural institutions [and] indicative of the strength that the notion of collective bargaining and unionization has for the new generation of people working in museums and cultural institutions.
For Dia workers, the next step will be to negotiate a first contract with the administration of the foundation. The process often takes more than two years, but in some cases it can take even longer (the Philadelphia Museum of Art union, which formed in May 2020, still doesn’t have its first contract and recently filed an unfair labor complaint against the museum).
“We will be meeting with members in the next few weeks to discuss the election of a bargaining committee and to survey people on bargaining priorities, and we hope to begin bargaining as soon as possible,” Rosenstein said.