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After contract agreement reached, MASS MoCA union employees end strike and return to work Wednesday

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, or MASS MoCA, is located in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Jill Kaufman
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, or MASS MoCA, is located in North Adams, Massachusetts.

MASS MoCA, the contemporary art museum in North Adams, Massachusetts, will be staffed as usual Wednesday, after unionized workers voted late Tuesday to ratify an agreement on wages, ending a three-week strike that began March 6.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with the MASS MoCA that raises minimum pay rates and improves working conditions. We are looking forward to getting back to the jobs we love," the United Auto Workers bargaining committee said in a statement Tuesday night.

MASS MoCA Director Kristy Edmunds said in a statement "equity and wage increases for MASS MoCA's staff have never been a matter of if, but a matter of how fast."

Edmunds said the agreement marks "another bold precedent that both the union and MASS MoCA desired and worked together to achieve."

Higher wages and more

According to the UAW, the agreement will settle wages for the next two years. Those earning currently earning just $16.25 per hour, 58% of the unit, will immediately be increased to "at least" $18 an hour.

MASS MoCA said the minimum wage it offers will jump to $18 per hour.

Full-time staff will receive general wage increases of at least 3.5% in each of the two years, the union said, and some workers will receive additional equity increases based on seniority and level of responsibility.

Average pay for the all unionized workers will increase just over 12% by the second year of the agreement, according to the UAW, which also includes additional holiday pay and establishes overtime pay for any shifts that exceed more than 10 hours a day.

Edmunds acknowledged North Adams Mayor Macksey, elected officials "and the surrounding businesses of North Adams," adding that those who lease space on the museum campus also felt the impact of the strike.

The new wages go into effect within 30 days, retroactive to January 1, the museum said.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."