The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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Mass MOCA Strike Is Over!

Photo+from+The+Berkshire+Eagle
Stephanie Zollshan
Photo from The Berkshire Eagle

After months of discussions, Mass MOCA workers went on strike on March 6th, demanding a wage of $18.25 per hour.

Overall, there had been around 300 people who had been showing up on the street throughout the entirety of the time that the strike had been happening. The wage that is being requested, according to data compiled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, would surpass the requirement for a livable wage for a household in the Berkshires with two working adults and no children. However, if you are the only income earner in your household and/or have any children a livable wage can be upwards of $21.83 per hour (up to $70.34 per hour at this current time). While the requested pay may not yet be a livable wage it is certainly closer to a livable wage than what MASS MOCA was offering, $17.25/hour. This strike came after numerous discussions with the museum about improving the employees’ wages, as well as a walkout that happened a few months into the discussions. The walkout in question lasted an hour but was enough to get Mass MOCA to raise their original offer.

Meg Labbee, one of the Strike Captains and the Artist Services Director at Mass MOCA, expressed hope that this strike would push Mass MOCA to raise their offer again. And that was what had finally happened. This three-week strike had finally come to a close after Mass MOCA’s most recent offer which would result in an average pay of the entire unit to increase by about 12% by the second year of this agreement and raise the minimum hourly pay to $18. On top of that the new deal would establish holiday pay and overtime pay for shifts that last longer than 10 hours. The union has approved the terms and as of Tuesday, March 26th, 2024 at 8 pm, unionized employees voted in favor of the new deal, bringing an end to the three-week-long strike.

This deal being agreed upon is an extremely positive and happy moment for both Mass MOCA Admin as well as for many of the employees that were on strike alike. This stalemate between Mass MOCA and the Union has resulted in plenty of frustrations while this strike was going on. From the cold weather to the general struggles that strikers face. Some of these struggles were a direct result of actively not working in a capitalistic society (such as having access to money for rent and food), which despite having access to benefits such as strike pay, were still prevalent at the time. According to Joey Rainone, a lot of the frustration came, not from the cold itself, but the fact that Mass MOCA seemed to show at the time that it was willing and content with keeping strikers out in the cold.

Joey Rainone works as an electrician at Mass MOCA. According to him young professionals (including riggers) have dealt with injuries, in some cases lasting ones, and Mass MOCA often relies on young professionals willing to do this work because of their passion. Employees are putting a lot of time and physical effort into this job, and it has resulted in lots of burnout amongst employees, not just physically either.

“The mental burnout is just as bad,” Rainone said. Overall, he expressed just how unsustainable the previous working environment at Mass MOCA was previously.

The deal that went through, made it so that 58% of the union workers who were previously making $16.25 an hour would now make $18 an hour and Full-time staff over the two years would see a general increase in wages of about 3.5%. This deal and strike could set the standard for employee treatment within the town of North Adams as well as the surrounding areas.

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Em Marlay-Wright, Staff Writer

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