Philadelphia Museum of Art workers will go on strike Monday, union says

Workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art will go on strike starting Monday, the union representing around 180 employees announced Friday.

A museum spokesperson said the museum will remain open.

The workers from Local 397 or AFSCME DC Local 47 went on a one-day “warning strike” last Friday. The museum remained open with workers picketing outside the entrances.

“The museum is deeply disappointed that the union has again chosen to strike. We have worked very hard this week at the negotiating table to avoid this outcome,” the museum spokesperson said in an email.

“The museum is committed to serving our community and visitors from around the world during a strike, however long it lasts,” the spokesperson said.

Union members voted late last month to authorize a strike.

Workers from virtually all museum departments voted to unionize in July 2020 and have been in protracted negotiations for a contract since October 2020. They are seeking improvement of wages and benefits and resolution to what union leaders call unfair labor practices — which led to a grievance filed with the National Labor Relations Board in August.

» READ MORE: Workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have authorized a strike. What does that mean?

“After two years of negotiations, our membership cannot accept further stalling and union-busting,” Local 397 president Adam Rizzo said in a statement Friday.

“We had hoped the museum’s appointment of a new director and CEO, Sasha Suda, would signal a change in tone and that she would be more involved in helping us reach a fair agreement. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. If the choice is between accepting the status quo or going on strike, we choose to strike. It’s up to museum management to present a better option,” Rizzo said.

Labor leaders said the key outstanding issues are improving wages and reducing the cost of health care.

“Our members will not accept a contract that does not bring wages and benefits at the museum up to an acceptable standard,” DC47 president Cathy Scott said in a statement.

“The past two years have only strengthened this workforce’s resolve and solidarity. We are ready for what a strike means; are they?” Scott said.

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