Employees at the Portland Museum of Art finished voting in mid-December on whether to unionize — but those votes won’t be counted until the National Labor Relations Board decides whether to allow PMA management to exclude certain employees from the union.
PMA management is contending that gallery ambassadors are actually guards, and that as such they’re not eligible for union membership.
PMA employees would join UAW Local 2110, the Technical, Office and Professional Union, which represents employees at cultural institutions. Organizer Maida Rosenstein says if it’s successful, the management effort would affect 23 employees — close to 40% of the total number of unionized staff.
“The gallery ambassadors of the museum are among the lowest-paid front-facing staff to be included in the unit. Most earn close to the minimum wage, and many have only part-time hours with no benefits,” she says.
The regional office of the labor board decided in November that gallery ambassadors aren’t guards, and can be in the union. But PMA management has appealed that decision to the national board.
It’s not clear when the labor board will make a decision, and ballots will be counted.
In a written statement, PMA management said it sincerely believes it was an error to include gallery ambassadors in the union, and looks forward to working in good faith with all employees to “ensure a strong, vibrant and sustainable PMA.”