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The director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation told employees Friday that the institution would implement furloughs and pay reductions in an effort to contend with “the deep and sudden impact” of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The near- and longterm financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Museum’s fiscal well-being is profound,” Richard Armstrong wrote in an email to his workers. “This decision did not come easily.”

Armstrong said in a separate statement that the Guggenheim projected a $10 million revenue shortfall and added that 92 staff members from across the museum would be furloughed. They will be paid through April 19 and receive health benefits covered by the museum through July 31 or the date of rehire, whichever comes first, Armstrong said. All unused vacation time will be paid out by May 1, according to the museum.

Pay will be reduced for another 85 employees, the museum said, including Armstrong, whose salary will be reduced 25%.

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A union representing about 140 of the Guggenheim’s workers criticized the furloughs.

“The administration’s decision to add to this crisis for their dedicated employees is wrong,” said William Lynn, business manager of Local 30 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. “It only strengthens our union’s resolve to negotiate a contract that makes this a fair place to work for these workers.”

The union said more than 100 regular freelance art handlers, carpenters and others had been paid for work scheduled through March 29 but not for assignments that some of those workers had lined up in April or early May.

Armstrong described the impact of the pandemic on the museum, citing loss of admission revenue; the cancellation of education classes, public programs and special events; and a decline in the museum’s endowment. He added that the museum expected that admission revenue would “remain substantially lower” than before when the museum reopens.

Print Headline: Guggenheim sets furloughs, pay cuts


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