Philadelphia Museum Workers Vote for Strike as Union Talks Stall
The Philadelphia Museum of Artwork (PMA) Union voted final evening, August 30, in favor of a strike authorization by a 99% margin throughout probably the most well-attended assembly in its historical past. The vote got here simply days after the union filed an unfair labor follow criticism in opposition to the museum. The strike authorization raises the stakes of ongoing negotiations between the union and administration which have been underway since October 2020.
The PMA Union is presently within the financial stage of negotiations, with its principal calls for being that administration increase pay, decrease the prices of healthcare, and set up paid parental go away. In July, a handout that the PMA Union distributed alleged that regardless of being among the many most well-endowed artwork museums within the nation, PMA pays 34% lower than different mid-Atlantic museums, 33% lower than others with related budgets, and 20% lower than museums nationally. In keeping with the union, administration’s supply was a meager assure of two to three% annual raises, two-week paid parental go away, and a well being plan that it considered as ungenerous, with excessive deductibles and low employer contributions.
“We’re lagging behind peer institutions in significant numbers, in terms of compensation to staff in our unit,” Amanda Bock, a PMA exhibition organizer and a lead store steward for the PMA Union, instructed Hyperallergic. “We’re still very far apart in terms of what we think our employees deserve,” she mentioned, referring to the divide that lies between the union and museum management.
An extra criticism the union has made pertains to the museum’s substitute of union jobs with momentary, subcontracted employment.
A PMA spokesperson expressed dismay on the union’s current actions, together with each their authorization of a strike and their submitting of an unfair labor follow criticism. “We value our staff and have always respected their right to organize and participate in the union,” the spokesperson instructed Hyperallergic in an electronic mail. “Accordingly, the museum has been bargaining in good faith with the union, and we remain committed to working toward a fair and appropriate collective bargaining agreement.”
The spokesperson mentioned the museum disagrees with the union’s claims within the unfair labor follow submitting, including: “To date, we have reached tentative agreements with the union on more than 25 substantive issues. We are scheduled to meet again with the union next week and hope to continue making progress in the negotiations.”
In August 2020, the PMA unionized with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Workers District Council 47 union (AFSCME DC 47), changing into the primary wall-to-wall union at a significant American museum. Some 89% of over 300 workers members voted in favor of unionization over a yr of organizing, a response to each inequitable salaries and a mishandled sexual harassment case.
The PMA Union hosted three rallies between April and July this yr to attract consideration to stalled negotiations with museum management. About 250 folks participated within the April rally, attended by workers, union representatives, artists, and politicians and over 2,000 protested in help of the union in July.
Adam Rizzo, a museum educator on the PMA and the union’s president, mentioned that engagement amongst union members has been excessive since they’ve been holding open bargaining classes. “Our membership sees clearly the kinds of behaviors that we’ve outlined in our unfair labor practice charge, and understands that a strike authorization was a really important step in redressing the wrongs that we believe the museum is committing in negotiations,” he instructed Hyperallergic in an interview. Rizzo added that he was “really pleasantly surprised” by the turnout, with greater than 100 members current.
“We hope that management will work to avoid a strike,” Bock mentioned. “They can do that by working out the unfair labor practice charge with us — remedying that and bringing serious offers to the bargaining table and negotiating in good faith with us.”
“I love my job,” Bock added. “I would really just like to go to work and do my job.”