Workers at Philadelphia Museum of Art begin walkout

September 26, 2022 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art began a strike Monday citing wage and health care issues as the institution said it would remain open during the walkout.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the union representing about 180 of the museum’s approximately 350 workers set up picket lines Monday at entrances to the main building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and at the nearby Perelman Building and the Rodin Museum on the parkway.

The museum posted a notice on social media saying it was open as usual Monday, with officials saying managers and nonunion employees would run the operation.

“We are committed to serving our community as we continue to negotiate in good faith toward a fair and appropriate new labor agreement,” the museum said.

Museum workers voted to unionize in July 2020, and leaders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 47, Local 397, said Friday that they had been in talks with the museum on a new contract for two years without success. Union officials said higher wages and reducing health care costs are among the important issues outstanding.

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“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.

Museum officials said they had offered “significant wage increases” totaling “8.5% over the next 10 months and 11% by July 1, 2024″ as well as a “minimum annual salary for exempt employees that is more than 10% higher than the current lowest annual salary for these employees.” Officials said they also offered four weeks of paid parental leave and accelerated eligibility for health benefits and vacation accrual for new hourly employees, the Inquirer reported.

Museum workers called a one-day warning strike on Sept. 16, during which the museum also remained open. The two sides are to meet again later in the week.