Workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) have voted to unionize, with an 89% majority of votes in favor. The PMA Union will be affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 47 (AFSCME DC 47), becoming one of the largest unionized museum workforces in the country.
The workers publicly announced their decision to schedule a union election in June, citing issues of pay, compensation, and benefits, as well as transparency. The museum faced a series of workplace harassment controversies this year related to two former employees, Joshua R. Helmer and and James A. Cincotta.
News of the union election came amid a wave of staff cuts at PMA, which said it projected a $6.5 million budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year due to the pandemic. The vote follows significant layoffs announced on Tuesday, of 85 employees who were furloughed in June.
In another victory, the PMA Union will be wall-to-wall — a term used to describe unions where different types of employees are covered by the same contract and bargaining agent. Nicole Cook, Program Manager for Graduate Academic Partnerships at PMA and member of the union organizing committee, told Hyperallergic that the museum had initially asked for two bargaining units, divided between “core” and “non-core” departments. The committee fought back, arguing that hierarchical distinctions diminished the role of employees who are integral to the institution.
PMA had also declined voluntary recognition of the union when workers first approached leadership about organizing in May. Instead, the museum told staff in an email that “all eligible employees should have the opportunity to decide through a vote if they want union representation.”
A statement shared by PMA Union says that “an outpouring of public support helped the staff move toward a ballot election.”
“In voting to unionize, PMA staff join millions of other workers organizing to improve their working conditions and workplace safety during the pandemic,” the union said, adding that it will be “the first major US museum to be organized in a ‘wall-to-wall’ union.”
“The election results today are a vindication of the work we’ve done over the past year, building solidarity and empowering staff to work together for a more democratic, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture,” PMA Union told Hyperallergic. “We’re so proud of this victory in the face of so many challenges.”
Given the limitations on group gatherings imposed by the coronavirus, votes were cast by mail-in ballot between July 9 and July 30. They were due August 6 and counted this morning.
“Just as we respected the right of staff to organize at the outset, we also respect today’s outcome,” a museum spokesperson told Hyperallergic. “As we move towards the development of a collective bargaining agreement, we pledge to work in good faith to achieve the best outcome for our staff and for this institution.”
Once denounced as “women’s work” with no artistic merit, embroidery is experiencing a revival, with a feminist punch.
Inspired by the journey made by the epic hero Homer’s Odyssey, a show at Villa Carmignac combines myth with contemporary issues.
This new kunsthaus in Potsdam shows modern and contemporary works of art from East Germany in what was once a terrace restaurant.
Courtney Stephens’s documentary on women’s travels from the 1920s to ’50s presents not just personal glimpses into daily life a century ago but also documents of colonialism.
Laura Larson’s City of Incurable Women draws from archival materials to speculate on the lives of women who were famously hospitalized for hysteria throughout history.
The Philadelphia organization offers artists on-site access to recovered materials, studio space, construction equipment, a $1,000 stipend, and more.
The company is asking users to verify their bank details via Plaid, a fintech company that recently settled a privacy class action lawsuit.
Each artist will receive $190,000 in cash and benefits from the Tulsa Artist Fellowship over a three-year period.
Drawn to Life at the Ackland in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, showcases 17th-century Dutch drawings of landscapes, portraits, preparatory studies, and biblical and historical scenes.
The 1,000-year-old Cañada de la Virgen ceremonial site will be protected from encroaching development.
A total of 24 board members stepped down from their posts after the art center’s parent company allegedly attempted to terminate 12 of their colleagues.
A group of artists and writers denounced the center for hosting Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the country’s former dictator.