Weekslong Philadelphia Museum of Art strike ends

Katherine Scott Image
Monday, October 17, 2022
Weekslong Philadelphia Museum of Art strike ends
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The deal was ratified on Sunday night by 99% of the union.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On Monday at 8 a.m., employees entered the Philadelphia Museum of Art back on the job after the 19-day walkout.

One worker raised a fist as he entered the museum doors.

The deal was ratified on Sunday night by 99% of the union.

"We feel very excited to be back," remarked installation technician Jenna Staffieri.

The strike began last month.

Visitors passed by demonstrators grouped near the various entrances and exits.

Local 397 represents roughly 180 employees: curators, conservators, workers in visitors services, and across most departments.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art union said the workers had been without a contract since the union was created in 2020.

"We knew we were in for long one because it took two years just to get to that point to decide to have to do that," noted Michael Gibbons, an installation technician, as he reported to work on Monday.

Among the terms, according to PMA union: higher raises, the first retroactive to July 1st, longevity pay to recognize length of service to the museum, more affordable healthcare, and four weeks of paid parental leave.

"I think it really establishes a way for folks to be rewarded for their commitment to the institution, but hopefully will help with retention of staff," said Adam Rizzo, museum educator and union president.

The deal comes in time for the Matisse exhibit to open at the museum on Thursday.

"I know other cultural institutions across the country were watching really closely what happened, so I think this will have ripple effects, and I'm really proud of that," said Rizzo.

On Monday morning, the museum released the following statement on Twitter:

"The Philadelphia Museum of Art and @PMA_Union have reached a collective bargaining agreement. We are pleased to have been able to work with the union and the City of Philadelphia to reach a strong agreement that works for everyone.

We were able to come to this agreement after receiving significant support from the City, Mayor Jim Kenney, and Deputy Mayor Richard Lazer.

We believe that the staff of the PMA is the foundation of the museums future.

We look forward to bringing our entire staff back together and welcoming you to the museum as a reunited team, as a unified institution in the service of Philadelphia, and as a national and international destination for art."

State Senator Nikil Saval tweeted, "What the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union have done for themselves, the museum, the city, and cultural workers everywhere, is immeasurable. This is an incredible achievement."