PMA workers at a rally in April (photo by Joe Piette via Wikimedia Commons)

Workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) will strike tomorrow, September 16, amid stalled union negotiations. The PMA Union authorized the strike on August 30 with an astounding 99% margin, days after the union filed an Unfair Labor Practices complaint against the institution.

In August 2020, the PMA’s employees joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 47 (AFSCME DC 47) after an election that saw 89% of workers vote in favor of organizing — becoming one of the largest unionized museum workforces in the country.

Negotiations with the museum began soon after, in October of that year. Now, two years later, a contract has yet to be finalized. In the union’s Unfair Labor Practices charge, it alleged that PMA had deployed union-busting tactics, and as its workers head into their one-day strike, the union says that the museum has yet to bring significant offers to the bargaining table. Those offers include provisions for wages, healthcare, and parental leave, according to a union press release shared with Hyperallergic.

“A union and a strong first contract are opportunities to reverse the tide of staff departures, low pay, and poor benefits, and to build a better PMA,” a studio photographer who has worked at the museum for seven years said in a statement on the union’s Twitter page. “I am ready to strike.”

In response to Hyperallergic’s request for comment, a PMA spokesperson said that the museum will remain open to the public. “When eligible staff voted to unionize, we immediately and unequivocally pledged to negotiate in good faith and we have done so,” the spokesperson added. “We are disappointed that the union has chosen to strike, but we remain focused on reaching a fair and appropriate contract with the union.”

The spokesperson added that the museum offers “full benefits” to staff working 25 hours or more weekly, including “up to 20 vacation days, 5 personal days, 9 paid holidays, and 12 sick days annually and up to a 5% employer match to 403(b) contributions.”

Tomorrow, PMA Union workers, including employees across the museum’s departments, will picket outside of the museum’s main building, its Rodin Museum, and its Perelman Building annex.

“We take this very seriously,” PMA Union president Adam Rizzo said in a statement. “If museum management does not remedy the Unfair Labor Practice Charge and come to the bargaining table ready to make real progress, we are prepared to take further action.”

The Latest

Required Reading

This week, Godard’s anti-imperialism, in defense of “bad” curating, an inexplicable statue, criminalizing culture wars, and more.

Elaine Velie

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.