Glenstone Museum Workers Are Officially Unionized

Workers at Maryland’s Glenstone Museum officially unionized on Friday, June 9, after an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The 89 hourly employees work across the institution’s café, grounds, and engineering teams, among other departments, and constitute around half of the private institution’s labor force. They are now part of Teamsters Local 639.

The workers announced their intent to organize during a May 8 all-staff meeting, where they had given leadership 24 hours to voluntarily recognize their union. The workers are seeking healthcare benefits across the board, a safer work environment that includes appropriate weather accommodations for outdoor employees, and living wages for all workers. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculates Montgomery County’s living wage at $27.12 per hour, but according to Grounds and Visitor Services Liaison Elizabeth Shaw, some workers at Glenstone earn as little as $20.58.

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Worker at the museum’s popular Jeff Koons sculpture “Split-Rocker” (2000) (photo by Elizabeth Shaw)

In a June 7 statement, Teamsters Local 639 accused Glenstone’s billionaire founders Mitchell and Emily Rales of orchestrating an “intense union-busting campaign” and spending “tens of thousands of dollars on union avoidance consultants from known union-busting firms Proskauer Rose and the American Labor Group.” 

Shaw told Hyperallergic that leadership distributed pins reading “Glenstone Gives” and pamphlets about the organizing effort. The document, reviewed by Hyperallergic, features an FAQ section with questions such as, “Isn’t this a no-lose situation for me?” alongside responses that paint the labor effort in a negative light. Mitchell and Emily Rales also mailed letters to employees urging them to “give due consideration to voting NO and keeping the Teamsters out of this special place we’ve built together.”

Glenstone has not responded to Hyperallergic‘s immediate request for comment. 

“There is absolutely no justifiable reason any of us should be required to work two jobs to pay rent or work in unsafe conditions,” café attendant Mohannad Shoair said in a statement. “We can’t wait to negotiate a strong first contract that addresses our collective concerns and provides the wages, benefits, and working conditions that we deserve.”

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