Seeking Job Security And Better Pay, Majority Of MASS MoCA Employees Vote To Unionize

Mass MoCA sits on 16 acres in North Adams, Mass. (Courtesy Mass MoCA/Kaelan Burkett)
Mass MoCA sits on 16 acres in North Adams, Mass. (Courtesy Mass MoCA/Kaelan Burkett)

Employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams have voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

The mail-in ballots were counted over a Zoom meeting on Wednesday. The results were not unexpected, said Amanda Tobin, the museum's assistant director of education and a spokesperson for the organizing employees.

The next step, Tobin said, is to survey union members to make sure their needs are represented when it comes to bargaining.

“In our organizing conversations with people, [many] talked about pay equity and the low wages in general at MASS MoCA,” Tobin said.

Tobin said people also talked about safety, in terms of machinery and equipment as well as COVID-19 — and they talked about job security.

“Of course, most of us were laid off last year,” Tobin said, “and some of us were rehired , so [we’re] wanting some more assurances that our jobs won't disappear overnight.”

Eligible employees will be part of the UAW Local 2110. Negotiating a contract with the museum could take up to a year, Tobin said.

In a statement, the museum’s interim director, Tracy Moore, said MASS MoCA's leaders “respect the choice to unionize” and look forward to working with the union.

“MASS MoCA is committed to continuing to build a culture where our employees feel valued and respected, and have the opportunity to contribute to the mission and grow as professionals,” Moore said. “While we recognize the challenges we face as an institution, we believe in our staff and in our ability to meet these challenges together.”

About a third of almost 100 eligible employees didn't cast a ballot. Among those who did, more than three-quarters voted to unionize.

This story is a production of New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New England Public Media on April 28, 2021.