Do Unions Really Work in a Museum Setting?

Unions work best in industry and repetitive work, not curatorial work. Pictured: Making Pittsburgh Stogies, 1907-08, by Lewis W. Hine. Gelatin silver print. (Yale University Art Gallery/Open Access/Public Domain)
They’re not famous for promoting excellence or initiative.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE M useum staffs are returning to the office, some summoning GPS because they’ve forgotten how to get there. The mood will likely be kvetchy, tetchy, and toxic. Everyone’s in an inquiring state of mind, too. Staff’s thinking, “How can we unionize?” Directors and trustees are asking, “How do we keep a union out?”

On Thursday, I wrote about the reasons, from a museum worker’s perspective, for pushing for a union. Today, I’ll dwell more on philosophy but, being me, on practicalities. What does a union mean in a museum setting?

What’s the mood in museums? At this moment, the 800-pound gorilla, my few

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