News & Commentary

March 7, 2024

Divya Nimmagadda

Divya Nimmagadda is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s labor news, ground workers at Lufthansa Airlines prepare for a two-day strike and employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art are striking over failed wage negotiations.

Earlier this week, amid ongoing negotiations with Lufthansa Airlines and German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, two German unions called on their members to go on strike. The train drivers’ union, GDL, is asking for a pay raise and decrease in working hours. Ver.di, representing almost 25,000 Lufthansa ground workers engaged in check-in, maintenance and aircraft and freight handling, is calling for a 12.5% pay increase among other terms. The two-day airline strike is scheduled to begin early on Thursday the 7th and continue through Saturday morning. 

This upcoming airline strike follows two similar actions by the union and its Lufthansa members in February. The strike by Lufthansa ground crew at five major German airports in early February forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights. Another strike by Lufthansa technical staff was carried out in late February, but did not affect passenger travel as much given the focus on cargo services. In light of the unsuccessful bargaining, a Ver.di negotiator remarked that the union was hoping to bring the focus of the strike back on passenger travel to increase pressure on the airline and force it to more seriously engage with the union’s demands. The frustration with the airline is especially present given that the “company is about to announce a record annual performance this week, is going to increase bonuses for its board considerably, and that staff on the ground…don’t even know how they are going to make ends meet in some of Germany’s most expensive cities.” The next round of negotiations are set for March 13th and 14th, and the union has stated that it will not begin bargaining earlier unless Lufthansa presents an improved offer. 

Unionized workers at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) went on strike on Wednesday after failed negotiations over wages. The workers plan to picket daily until a resolution is reached. The employees’ union, United Auto Workers Local 2110, represents around 120 full and part time workers covering the gamut of roles at the museum including administrative staff, curators, educators, custodians, etc.  A previous agreement had a clause allowing the union to reopen wage discussions in October of 2023, and this current strike follows five months of unsuccessful bargaining. The union is seeking to increase the wage minimum to $18.25 an hour, which would come to $38,000 a year – a salary that is still $9,000 less than the annual cost of living in the area. The highest offer from the museum has been $17.25. MoCA is one of several other prominent museums, including the Boston Fine Arts Museum and the New York Museum of Modern Art, that have unionized in recent years.

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