LOS ANGELES — Workers at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures have voted to approve their first union contract. The three-year contract secures economic gains including a minimum starting rate of $20 an hour and a minimum of 3% annual wage increases, as well as paid parental leave, increased stipends for work attire, greater medical leave benefits, and employer-provided commuting options. 

The contract was announced yesterday, September 26, the same day that the Writers Guild of America ended its strike, capping off a contentious labor struggle with Hollywood studios that lasted 148 days.

“I’m thrilled we were able to win good wage increases, especially for our front-line teams. We also secured a number of protections for the health and safety of museum staff,” Cheryl Jones, a visitor experience associate at the Academy Museum, said in the statement shared with Hyperallergic. “We all came together to make this happen, and I’m proud to have represented my coworkers in this historic win.”

Workers at the institution on LA’s Miracle Mile initially announced their intention to unionize and form the Academy Museum Workers United (AMWU) in May of 2022, less than a year after the museum opened. They cited wage discrepancies and an inadequate response to COVID-19 among the reasons behind their decision to form a union under AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 10,000 museum workers at 100 cultural institutions in the United States. 

Less than two months later, on July 14, the Academy Museum leadership voluntarily recognized the union, making the museum only the third in LA whose workers are unionized, alongside the Museum of Tolerance and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Workers at the Marciano Foundation announced plans to unionize in November 2019; however, less than a week later, the museum stated that it would be closing immediately and laying off all of its visitor services associates.

The Academy Museum union represents more than 170 workers in its bargaining unit, the majority from the Visitor Experience, Retail, Theater Operations, and Facilities departments. 

“I’m pleased that negotiations were completed swiftly for the sake of our teams and that they were conducted with mutual respect on both sides,” Jacqueline Stewart, director and president of the Academy Museum, said in the statement released jointly by the museum and AMWU.

The approval of AMWU’s contract comes amidst a growing labor movement among workers across cultural institutions nationwide that includes unionization efforts at the Jewish Museum in NY, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the New Museum

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *