A group of staff members gathered in the lobby of New York City's New Museum on Jan. 11 to network and publicly promote unionization. According to the workers, museum administration has hired a tough consulting firm that is engaging in an unfair anti-union campaign. Unsurprisingly, the New Museum has pushed back with a different narrative. According to a labor organizer at the museum, management is trying to mislead museum employees about the nature and intent of the pro-union campaign.
The workers' bargaining unit reportedly includes 74 members from across all departments. On the day before the gathering, union organizers issued a statement asking the New Museum's board of trustees and management to respect their rights to organize without interference. In response to the union organizers, the New Museum issued a statement saying that it wants its staff to make "a fully informed decision". A tweet posted by a former New Museum employee claimed that lower employees are often forced to work for low wages while being unclear if they would be let go.
Each year, similar scenes play out in workplaces across the state of New York as workers struggle to gain union representation.Any type of labor conflict can quickly become contentious and fraught with legal peril. Only time will tell if the New Museum unionization effort will end up in court.
In many cases, unions can benefit from legal representation. For union representatives guiding their members through a contract negotiation, a good labor attorney could potentially offer immediate insights. Having access to legal advice may help a union group obtain a better deal.