Glenstone Staff Vote to Unionize

11June 11, 2024

Glenstone Staff Vote to …

Workers at private contemporary art museum x in Potomac, Maryland, voted on June 6 and 7 to unionize hourly workers under the aegis of Teamsters Local 639, theWashington Postreports. The new union encompasses eighty-nine employees working in the curatorial, engineering and maintenance, grounds, community engagement, and registration departments, as well as the café, and formed despite pressure from Mitchell and Emily Wei Rales, Glenstone’s billionaire founders, not to do so.

“These workers defeated a sophisticated union-busting assault personally waged by some of the wealthiest people in America,” Local 639 president Bill Davis said in a statement. “I want to welcome them to our local union, and I look forward to helping them negotiate a first Teamsters contract.”

Among the benefits sought by the unionizing workers were health care and living wages for all workers, including part-time employees, a safer work environment, and increased transparency. Hyperallergic in May reported that the lowest-paid members of the bargaining unit received $20.58 an hour, above the federal $15 minimum wage but less than the $27.12 living wage in Montgomery County, where the museum is situated, as calculated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In unionizing, Glenstone workers join staff at art institutions across the US, from the Tacoma Art Museum to the Denver Art Museum to the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, who in the past few years have organized to gain better wages and protections in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which highlighted the precarity of many museum jobs.

Despite the earlier pushback from its founders, Glenstone issued a statement recognizing the union, following the vote. “We have said from the beginning of this process that we respect the right of our associates to decide whether to join a union,” the museum said. “We accept the results of this election and intend to negotiate in good faith with the goal of achieving an equitable contract for the members of this new bargaining unit.”