We Still Can’t Eat Prestige
In the past decade, the unionization of museum workers has seen great increases. While non-profit cultural institutions do not conform to many Americans’ image of workspaces that need organizing, those who labor in art, history, and natural science museums are often treated as disposable, exploitable workers who should tolerate poor working conditions, low pay, and inconsistent scheduling in exchange for the opportunity to “contribute to the social good.” At museums that have remained open or reopened while Covid-19 remains a threat, the pandemic has helped to ramp up calls for collective bargaining rights that will bring greater health and safety protections.
Please join unionized museum workers, organizers, activists, and scholars for a discussion of what the future of organized labor in museums might look like, and what the movement to organize cultural workers seeks to accomplish.
- Sarah Jaffe, labor journalist and author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt and Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted and Alone
- Robert Burnier, The Art Institute of Chicago, AICWU/AFSCME
- Maro Elliott, MASS MoCA, UAW Local 2110
- Karissa Francis, Whitney Museum, UAW Local 2110
- Brian Kipruto, Philadelphia Museum of Art, AFSCME DC 47 Local 397
- Rebecca K. Givan, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University
- Andrew Urban, Department of History, Rutgers University