After a three-week strike, Philadelphia Museum of Art employees reaches a contract deal

Date:

Philadelphia Museum of Art employees reaches a contract deal

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • After a resounding 99% of unionised employees at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) voted to approve their first contract, the three-week strike ended on Monday (17 October), and they are now back at work.

  • The ratified contract includes a reduction in the price of healthcare plans that many union workers use, four weeks of paid paternal leave, and a 14% wage increase throughout the contract—the first raise taking effect retroactively from July 1 of this year—and a raise to $16.75 for the museum’s minimum hourly wage.

  • The PMA is glad that a tentative [collective bargaining agreement] has been reached with the union.

  • Union members claim that the union’s one-day warning strike in the middle of September caused the end of negotiations.

  • Union employees and museum management are hoping to go forward and resume work now that a contract has finally been ratified.

After a resounding 99% of unionised employees at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) voted to approve their first contract, the three-week strike was called to an end on Monday (17 October), and they are now back at work. Two years of discussions between the union and museum officials came to a conclusion with the vote. The museum’s employees started organising in 2019 and were successful in creating a union in the spring of 2020.

The ratified contract, which addresses several issues that union workers ranked highly, will be in place until July 2025, after which a new contract will be drafted. The ratified contract includes a reduction in the price of healthcare plans that many union workers use, four weeks of paid paternal leave, and a 14% wage increase over the course of the contract—the first raise taking effect retroactively from July 1 of this year—and a raise to $16.75 for the museum’s minimum hourly wage.

Adam Rizzo, president of Local 397 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, says, “The support we’ve gotten from the community, our union brothers and sisters, city politicians, state politicians, and the general public has touched us all deeply” (AFSCME). “We are closer together than ever and ready to keep fighting for change at the institution we love.”

The strike, which started on September 26, occurred as the museum’s new director and chief executive, Stacy Suda, assumed leadership on October 1. As a place where people from all over the world come to see art, I’m looking forward to moving forward as a single institution at the service of its great city.

Despite having to cross the picket line of the union in order to enter the museum, it remained open during the strike. The museum also hired non-union art handlers to set up the exhibit so that it could open on time for its big show, Matisse in the 1930s, which runs from October 20, 2022, to January 29, 2023.

“Over the past two years, the parties have met regularly and methodically worked through the problems with the first contract. A museum representative told The Art Newspaper that this period of time is typical for a first contract. The PMA is glad that a tentative [collective bargaining agreement] has been reached with the union. Sasha Suda is eager to work with everyone to unite the whole staff, focus on the future, and bring attention to the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition Matisse in the 1930s, which opens on October 20.

Before union members voted in August to allow a strike, they held a number of protests and filed a number of unfair labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Union members claim that the union’s one-day warning strike in the middle of September caused the end of negotiations. Union employees and museum management are hoping to go forward and resume work now that a contract has finally been ratified.

“Knowing that I’ll be returning to the buildings with my union comrades makes me happy and comforted.” Before reporting to work on Monday, Nicole Cooke, program manager for graduate academic collaborations at the museum and a member of the union bargaining team, said, “I am fortunate that I have a lovely direct supervisor, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.” I am really excited to get back to the museum’s work and to collaborate with all of my PMA colleagues.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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