Philadelphia Museum of Art employees agree to bargain, ending 19-day strike

The Philadelphia Art Museum workers’ strike lasted 19 days.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art reached a tentative agreement with their employers, which union members voted to ratify on Sunday, ending a 19-day strike.

The strike, which began on September 26, was aimed at ensuring fair wages and health care, according to the PMA union. At least 180 unionized workers joined the picket line daily – out of about 340 total employees – according to PhillyVoice.

The local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees negotiated a contract shortly after first unionizing in July 2020.

The agreed contract includes agreements for 14% wage increases over three years, a minimum wage increase from $15 to $16.75 and four weeks of paid parental leave, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. It also includes a bonus of $500 for every five years of service.

In August 2022, AFSCME Local 397 filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that museum management had engaged in union-busting tactics, according to PhillyVoice.

On September 16, unionized workers staged a one-day strike, which the PMA union described as a “warning to museum management”.

“After more than two years of fighting for a fair contract and nearly three weeks on strike, workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have finally reached a fair agreement that treats them with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said said AFSCME President Lee Saunders in a press release. Friday.

A new Henri Matisse exhibit due to open on Thursday was a “motivating factor” in reaching an agreement, PMA President Leslie Anne Miller told The New York Times. Throughout the strike, unionized workers used “No justice, no peace. No contract, no Matisse.” like a song, according to WHYY.

Sasha Suda, PMA’s new director and CEO, took up her new role on the first day of the strike. She began her role during a tumultuous time for the PMA, replacing Timothy Rub, who has come under fire for his handling of sexual assault allegations against a former museum director, and inheriting long-running struggles between employees and management .

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