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-long strike.
The strike, which started Sept. 26, worked to address fair wages and health care, according to the PMA Union. At least 180 union workers joined the picket line daily — out of about 340 employees in total — according to PhillyVoice.
The local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has been negotiating a contract shortly after first unionizing in July 2020.
The agreed-upon contract includes agreements for salary increases by 14% 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 $500 bonus for every five years of service.
In August 2022, AFSCME’s local chapter, Local 397, filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that museum management engaged in union-busting tactics, according to PhillyVoice.
On Sept. 16, union workers staged a one-day strike, which the PMA Union described as a “warning to museum management.”
“After more than two years fighting for a fair contract and nearly three weeks on strike, Philadelphia Museum of Art workers have finally reached a fair deal that treats them with the respect and dignity they deserve,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a press release Friday.
A new Henri Matisse exhibit due to open on Thursday was a “motivating factor” to reach an agreement, PMA Chairwoman Leslie Anne Miller told The New York Times. Throughout the strike, union workers used "No justice, no peace. No contract, no Matisse." as a chant, according to WHYY.
Sasha Suda, PMA's new director and CEO, started 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 was criticized for his handling of sexual assault allegations against a former museum manager, and inheriting longstanding struggles between employees and management.