Striking workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art took their historic contract fight with the museum to the City Council on Thursday, arguing that management negotiators are misrepresenting the union’s position in internal communications and public comments.
A spokesman for the museum strongly disagreed with that characterization Thursday evening and insisted that museum negotiators had bargained in good faith from the start of negotiations.
In a letter to all City Council members, AFSCME DC 47 President Kathryn Scott condemned art museum management for “representing [to council] Those are inaccurate at best and deliberately misleading at worst.” In his letter to the council, D.C. Local 47 president Scott said the PMA union did not walk away from negotiations, as management said, but “clearly communicated” to museum negotiators that “our five key issues Movement is needed” to make further progress at the bargaining table. Union members also attended Thursday’s council meeting, some testifying to the union’s intent.
But what are those five main problems? Basically it comes down to compensation and healthcare. Here’s a closer look at the claims:
1. raised by: The “across-the-board raises” became retroactive to July 1 — when the museum “raised all non-union employees.”
2. Payment: In an effort to make up for years of lower pay, the union wants the museum to recognize “longevity” of service with a payment of $500 for every five years of employment — recognition of “longevity.” This longevity payment will be added to base pay every five years.
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3. Guaranteed Minimum: Raised the minimum wage for hourly workers to $16.75 an hour.
4. Overall Salary Increase: Museum-wide increase in base pay.
5. Less expensive healthcare For employees: Health care benefits, union leaders say, are so expensive that most employees can only afford a “high deductible” plan that leaves employees “on the hook” for payments even after the deductible is met.
Adrienne Atiles, a grants manager at the museum who testified before the council, noted that the city budget provides “significant city funds” to operate the museum but “many of us work different jobs, can’t afford health care” and struggle with housing costs. .
“The disparity in pay within museums is staggering, those of us who actually put up the art on the walls and lead the children’s programs have to strike as a last resort,” Atiles said. “Meanwhile … museum executives bring home salaries ranging from $200,000 to $700,000 a year. It’s a shame.”
During the hearing, council member Cindy Bass called the economic disparity between museum management and the union “ridiculous.”
“The art museum has a large endowment and substantial freehold from the city of Philadelphia on some valuable real estate in the city of Philadelphia” and the union should be able to afford the deal. He estimated that union and museum proposals were separated by about $300,000 a year.
“The value of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is not derived solely from the grandeur of the buildings or the quality of their art collection – it lies in the strength of their staff,” said Council Member Helen Zimm. “Museums must meet the reasonable needs of their staff. This is a world-class organization with world-class employees and it’s time to treat them as such.”
In a statement issued Monday, museum management proposed “total wage increases of 8.5% over the next 10 months and 11% by July 1, 2024” and “an annual minimum wage for non-exempt employees that is 10% higher than the current minimum annual salary for these employees.” Salary.”
The museum also said it offered employees four weeks of paid parental leave and accelerated eligibility for health benefits for new hourly employees, allowing those employees to receive medical, dental and vision coverage 60 days earlier than today.
Union leaders, however, said there is no proposal to raise the minimum wage for hourly workers beyond the current $15 an hour. And they said the formulation of the museum’s wage offer was “confusing”. In his letter, Scott said the museum’s offer was actually a 3.6% annual increase “after three years of no increase at all and inflation running above 8% a year.”
On the fourth day of the strike, Thursday, the museum reopened after regular closure on Tuesday and Wednesday. Managers and non-union employees are staffing the building, and museum management has pledged to keep the museum open during the strike.
In a memo to employees on Wednesday, workers were instructed to “report to the west entrance on Thursday” unless they had a “specific strike assignment”.
“The Visitor Experience (VEX) team will provide assignments to those already trained and those who have not yet been on the floor will be trained in Visitor Services or Retail,” the memo instructed.
Both sides return to bargaining on Friday.