Buffalo AKG Art Museum Employees Set to Vote on Unionizing – ARTnews.com

Employees of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum are set to vote later this month on whether to join AKG Workers United, the Buffalo News reported Thursday

71 employees across the visitor experience, facilities, and food services departments will take part in the vote, which is set for January 25. The unionization campaign was launched in November, and earlier this month employees filed a petition for the election with the National Labor Relations Board. 

“We recognize that Art and the Labor movement are aligned in collective struggle, and we believe that unionizing is the best path to ensure that we, the workers at the Buffalo AKG, can all take pride of ownership and feel a secure sense of belonging in our workplace and the broader community,” the workers said in statement shortly after taking their campaign public.

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The entrance of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum.

Formerly known as the Albright-Knox Gallery, the museum reopened last year after a four-year closure during which the institution underwent a $200 million renovation and expansion. The widely-acclaimed plan added a three-story structure, bringing the total exhibition space to 50,000 square feet.

The unionization campaign, however, has had its tense moments. Billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach, who contributed $65 million to the expansion, denounced on social media last month the “unionists descending” on the museum and said that higher costs associated with unionization could cause the museum to close. The posts were later deleted and Gundlach clarified in a statement that he had no influence on museum operations. 

Additionally, AKG Workers United has filed unfair labor practice charges against the institution, accusing its leadership of heightening surveillance of employees and re-enforcing workplace rules in direct response to unionization efforts. Museum officials have denied all allegations.

Andrea Harden, Buffalo AKG’s director of human resources, told ARTnews in November: “The Buffalo AKG supports the right of workers to organize. Our employees are absolutely vital to our community, and we are grateful for their efforts to ensure that the museum is a welcoming resource for all. We look forward to productive conversations ahead.” 

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