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Mail-In Voting Begins For MASS MoCA Employees Hoping To Unionize

A view of MASS MoCA in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts.
Shannon Young
The Republican / masslive.com
A view of MASS MoCA in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts.

About 100 eligible employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams can now begin to cast mail-in ballots, voting on whether to form a union.The vote takes place after employees successfully petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (PDF).

Inequitable working conditions and low salaries pushed employees to consider unionizing. But the catalyst was pandemic-related layoffs said Amanda Tobin, a MASS MoCA employee and union organizer. 

The museum was forced to close its doors because of COVID-19, Tobin said, but jobs were abruptly cut. Employees, including herself, were required to reapply for their positions.

Not everyone was hired back, Tobin said. 

“So I think that level of at-will employment, whether COVID-related or not, is on peoples’ minds,” Tobin said. “More now than before, perhaps.” 

In the last few years, workers at several cultural institutions have unionized. UAW Local 2110 also unionized employees at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston last fall.

In an email, a MASS MoCA spokesperson said if employees vote to certify with the UAW Local 2110, they anticipate “excellent labor-management relations,” and “will work toward the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement.”

A public counting of the ballots will take place April 28 on Zoom.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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