June 17, 2019

Brooklyn Academy of Music Employees Vote to Unionize

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—The administrative and cinema workers at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) have voted to unionize, with 119 out of 145 (or around 82 percent) voting in favor of joining Local 2110 UAW (United Auto Workers).

“We’re excited about this forward momentum,” Jesse Trussell, a film programmer who has worked at BAM since 2013 and an organizer of the unionization effort, told Hyperallergic. “It’s just the first step in working together. We look forward to sitting down at the bargaining table with BAM and working together for providing a strong contract for everyone.”

BAM said in a statement: “BAM respects the decision of our employees and is committed to forging a good relationship like we have with the six other unions that represent BAM employees.”

Employees signed a petition to join the union in April; the plan to form a union has been in the works for more than a year and a half, following reductions in benefits such as health care and 401(k) matching, the conversion of full-time jobs into hourly part-time positions, and other changes in working conditions.

“We are here because we believe in BAM’s mission,” BAMunion (@BAM_union) wrote on Twitter in April. “Through unionization, we raise our morale, pride, and job satisfaction. Our union will make BAM stronger, more democratic, and more sustainable. BAM is a cultural institution that stands for freedom of expression, innovation, and open dialogue. However, as administrative staff, we need a truly powerful voice of our own in our workplace.”

Trussell added: “We were inspired by workers at the Tenement Museum and the New Museum who had incredible campaigns over the last few months. You can feel this wave of people who work in cultural institutions come together in solidarity. It’s heartening to see workers coming together and standing up for themselves.”

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