Art museum guards win right to unionize

    The security guards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have finally won their right to unionize. But the union’s work has just begun.

    The security guards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have finally won their right to unionize.

    After the guards voted themselves into a union last year, their employer – Allied Barton – appealed to the National Labor Relations Board to overturn that vote.

    Allied Barton lost that appeal. But the union’s work has just begun.

    Union coordinator Fabricio Rodriguez says Allied Barton – the Conshohocken-based security personnel company – quickly reached out to him after the Labor Relations Board upheld the union on Monday. The two entities are now talking about when and where to discuss a new contract.

    Rodriguez says the real fight will be at the negotiation table.

    “The pay and benefits have a lot to do with that,” says Rodriguez. “But I think one of the main issues that we’re facing at the museum is that there is not really a clear path for workers to turn these jobs into career positions. Raises are handed out without much bearing for people’s seniority, their training levels, their leadership.”

    Rodriguez says there is an urgency to hammer out a contract before a city budget is finalized by City Council in June.

    That’s how the money flows: guards are paid by Allied Barton, which is hired by the Museum, which is partly funded by the City.

    “All these things have to operate and move at the same time,” says Rodriguez. “We’re trying to make sure our negotiating process is well underway, so we know how to advise our supporters in City Hall about an allocation to the Museum.”

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