The Philadelphia Museum of Art remained open Friday as nearly 200 workers walked off the job for what they’re calling a one-day warning strike.
Art museum employee Juliet Vinegra led the way on the bullhorn outside one of the main entrances Friday morning.
“I’m loud and proud to be a union member and I want everyone to know it,” Vinegra said.
Dozens of Local 397 union members were not clocking in; instead, they rallied outside the main museum, the Perelman Annex and Rodin Museum.
They said museum managers will have to keep the building up and running.
Employees even booed top bosses and managers who arrived at work expressing their dissatisfaction.
“We’ve been negotiating our first contract for two years. Management’s been stalling,” said Adam Rizzo, an art museum employee and president of the union.
Rizzo said the union represents about 180 of the more than 300 employees at the art museum.
“We’re fighting for fair pay. A lot of folks at the museum work two jobs, which is pretty unbelievable for an institution with a $60 million a year budget and a $600 million endowment,” Rizzo said.
Vinegra is one of those employees working more than one job.
“I’m out here mostly for health insurance and fair pay. I have to work two jobs in order to afford my bills and just to live,” Vinegra said. “The museum has not come to the table with proposals that actually show fair pay for us. They have come consistently with 2%, which is below cost of living and we have not received raises in years.”
A museum spokesperson said they have been negotiating in good faith and released this statement in response Friday:
“The museum remains open to the public and is committed to serving our community. When eligible staff voted to unionize, we immediately and unequivocally pledged to negotiate in good faith and we have done so. The museum has devoted significant time and energy to the negotiations, and we have made considerable progress, reaching agreement on more than 25 substantive issues. We are disappointed that the union has chosen to strike, but we remain focused on reaching a fair and appropriate contract with the union.”
Members of the union said they plan on returning to work over the weekend with the goal to sit down to resume negotiations next week. From there, they’ll determine their plan of action moving forward.