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131 Artists Sign Open Letter Urging MoMA to Settle Staff Strike

NEW YORK CITY, NY -- Approximately 131 artists from New York and around the world have signed an open letter to the Museum of Modern Art, (MoMA) urging the museum to settle the strike by its professional and administrative staff. The letter, which was published last week in the VILLAGE VOICE and TIME OUT NEW YORK, states:

"As members of the arts community, we regret the Museums refusal to negotiate with its Professional and Administrative Staff Association. This group, which went out on strike on April 28, includes curators, educators, librarians, visitor assistants, and other workers vital to the health and intellectual life of the institution. Their concerns deserve to be addressed in good-faith bargaining sessions without further delay. We urge New Yorkers and visitors to this city to honor the picket lines by staying away from MoMA and its stores until the strike is settled."

The letter is signed by the following artists:

Cecile Abish, Walter Abish, Vito Acconci, Peggy Ahwesh, Pedro Almodno Barreto, Zoe Beloff, Robert Benton, Dara Birnbaum, Isidro Blasco, Eric Bogosian, Joan Braderman, Chris Burden, David Byrne, Cai Guo-Qiang, Maurizio Cattelan, Vija Celmins, Willie Cole, Maureen Connor, John Coplans, Sylvia Chang, Douglas Crimp, Arthur C. Danto, Jules Dassin, Roy DeCarava, Christopher Doyle, Barbara Ehrenreich, Nicole Eisenman, Jane Farver, Eric Fischl, Julia Fish, Holly Fisher, Kenneth Frampton, Su Friedrich, Coco Fusco, Rainer Ganahl, Leon Golub, Guerrilla Girls, Lynn Gumpert, Hans Haacke, DeeDee Halleck, Peter Halley, Barbara Hammer, Harmony Hammond, Ruth Hardinger, Melissa Harris, Todd Haynes, Jon Hendricks, David Hunt, Hitomi Iwasaki, Alfredo Jaar, Julia Jacquette, Ken Jacobs, Jim Jarmusch, Joan Jonas, Bill T. Jones, Tom Kalin, Mary Kelly, Silvia Kolbowski, Komar and Melamid, Joyce Kozloff, Chris Kraus, Barbara Kruger, Mike Leigh, Warren Leight, Leung Chi Wo, Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, Sylvere Lotringer, Mary Lucier, David Marsh, John Moore, Thurston Moore, Errol Morris, Paul Morrissey, Antonio Muntadas, Jane Necol, C. Michael Norton, Frans Ozon, Malcolm Payne, Howardena Pindell, Gerald Posner, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Maggie Renzi, Richard Rezac, Martha Rosler, Robert Ryman, Lucas Samaras, John Sayles, Adrian Saxe, Carolee Schneemann, Martin Scorsese, Brigit Shields, Shelly Silver, Joan Simon, Karina Skvirsky, Valerie Smith, Michael Snow, Joan Snyder, Susan Sontag, Nancy Spero, Art Spiegelman, Steven Spielberg, May Stevens, Quentin Tarantino, Bertrand Tavernier, Diana Thater, Reiko Tomii, Momoyo Torimitsu, Francesc Torres, Tony Walton, Elizabeth Weatherford, Lawrence Weiner, Lawrence Weschler, Donald E. Westlake, Edmund White, Frederick Wiseman, Wong Kar-Wai, Sara Wong, Alan Wynn, Philip Yenawine, John Zorn.

The Professional and Administrative Staff Association, (PASTA-MoMA), part of Local 2110/UAW, which includes MoMA's curatorial staff, editors, educators, librarians, researchers, salespeople, and visitor assistants, is fighting healthcare cutbacks, poverty-level starting salaries as low as $17,000, and impending layoffs.

But, in a statement on the College Art Association (CAA) web site, MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowry, calls the Union's position "adversarial" toward the museum. He points to the museum's "superb benefit package" and attests that fair salaries, superior to amounts paid elsewhere for similar work, have been "arbitrarily rejected" by the union.

Lowry believes that the museum has made a fair offer. It includes a 3 percent raise in each year of a 3-year contract as well as "extraordinary" health and dental benefits and other benefits such as four to six weeks annual vacation.

PASTA-MoMA responds on the CAA web site that employees in other unions at the museum are paid at much higher rates. Security guards start at a rate 50 percent higher than entry-level PASTA employees; and art handlers at a rate 88 percent higher. PASTA also believes that "Not coincidentally, PASTA is the only union at MoMA that is predominantly female."

Noting that the museum's final offer of 3 percent for each year is the lowest percentage increase it has ever offered, PASTA proposes a 5 percent increase the first year and a 4 percent increase each year thereafter.

As of August 15, the strike had been underway 111 days.

Sources/resources:

THE PROFESSIONAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF ASSOCIATION OF THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (PASTA-MoMA) -- http://local2110.home.igc.org
The site links to an extensive bibliography of media coverage about the strike at http://www.panix.com/~tobiasj/strikebib.html

MUSEUM OF MODERN ART WEB SITE -- http://www.moma.org

"Viewpoints: The Museum of Modern Art and the PASTA Union"
COLLEGE ART ASSOCIATION WEB SITE -- http://www.collegeart.org/

"Striking MoMA Workers, MoMA Management to Meet This Week"
Arts Wire CURRENT -- http://www.artswire.org/current/2000/cur061300.html
June 13, 2000


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