AKG Art Museum says it’s willing to have union talks after Gundlach deletes posts

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo AKG Art Museum says it’s open to bargaining with its employees if the topic of unionization were to come up.

This is in response to a series of now-deleted posts by museum donor Jeffrey Gundlach.

“Unionizers are descending upon the Buffalo AKG Art Museum,” Gundlach wrote on Twitter/X this past week. “The AKG is a cultural treasure for Western NY, the US and the World. If the cost structure of the AKG, which is barely making it now, is increased, the museum will have to close. After recent [renovations] of $200 million.”

Gundlach made significant financial contributions to the museum’s improvement project, which involved nearly four years of construction after ground was broken in November 2019. The museum, formerly known as the Albright-Knox, later reopened under its new name this past June.

The “G” in the name stands for “Gundlach.”

“If the AKG has to close due to union cost pressures, there will be no jobs at all. No art at all. No incremental tourism at all. Roll the ‘talking proud’ video. The AKG is the sixth oldest cultural institution,” Gundlach said.

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The AKG Art Museum said it’s aware of Gundlach’s words, but made clear that he’s not involved in their decision-making.

“While Jeffrey is an important donor to the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, he is not part of the museum’s leadership team and his views do not reflect ours, nor are they indicative of the approach we have taken or will take on the topic of unionization,” AKG Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Dr. Janne Sirén said.

Gundlach, in a new post shared early Saturday morning, affirmed this.

“I have no say whatsover in the operations of the AKG. I am not on the Board, I am not a Trustee. Nothing,” he wrote. “My say-so now is exactly the same as it was 60 years ago when I first visited the AK with my mother and grandmother. I gave $65 million only so it could all be better.”

It’s not clear whether or not there has been any internal talk of unionizing, but Dr. Sirén says the museum is not averse to it.

“We respect our employees’ right to consider whether or not to form a union, and should they elect to do so, we will bargain with the union in good faith,” he said.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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