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Boston Museum of Fine Arts workers vote to unionize

An overwhelming majority of employees eligible to unionize at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston voted to join the United Auto Workers, becoming one of the last bargaining units at a leading American cultural institution .

Election results were compiled on Friday, showing a 90% margin of victory for union hopefuls after a month-long postal election and nearly a year of organizing.

“I find this redistribution of power significant,” said Jon Feng, representative of the museum’s membership and visitor services. “I believe in our ability to work together to negotiate and then maintain a fairer workplace for all.”

The 133-14 vote comes as officials navigate the economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The Boston Museum adopted a number of savings measures over the summer after projecting a budget deficit of around $ 14 million. These measures included cuts in executive salaries and a reduction in staff of around 100 employees – through layoffs or early retirement. The museum closed in March, then reopened in September with a workforce that had shrunk by 20 percent.

“We have said throughout this process that, above all, we support the right of our employees to make this decision and we want to make sure that all voices are heard,” said museum director Matthew Teitelbaum in a statement. “We are pleased that the election went smoothly and fairly, and we are determined to work with the union to move forward.

The union includes members from more than 30 departments, including conservation teams and reception staff. But the negotiations are not over; the museum disputes the inclusion of more than 40 employees, including those classified as full-fledged curators and restorers.

Like many of its peer institutions where workers have unionized in recent years, the National Gallery has made clear its opposition to the organization; however, he never led an anti-union campaign or hired lawyers to quash employee efforts.

On Monday, Film at Lincoln Center employees voted 88% to join the union.

Through the union, employees hope to advance diversity efforts and fair compensation at the museum. “We cannot call ourselves a world class museum until all of our employees are treated with fairness, dignity and respect,” said Kat Bossi, staff member in the Exhibitions Department. “With a union, we can achieve rigorous, metric goals to increase the diversity of our workforce.”

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