Sites Lack Progress of Workers Rights
Philadelphia City Council proposed early this week an amendment to remove funding to the Philadelphia Museum of Art due to the failure of its subcontracted security company AlliedBarton to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia Security Officers Union. This proposal comes one year after Museum COO Gail Harrity had promised progress, in a written letter to Council President Verna, with regard to workers’ rights.
Last year the Philadelphia Security Officers Union waged a campaign to prevent the Philadelphia Museum of Art from receiving city funds unless AlliedBarton recognized the independent labor union. The company had refused to recognize the union after they won a federally mandated union election in 2009.
The union suspended its campaign after Museum leaders made an effort to resolve the on-going labor strife.
In a letter dated May 10th, 2010 and addressed to Council President Verna, Ms. Harrity stated that the Museum would make sure that its contractors meet the wage levels outlined in the Philadelphia Living Wage Ordinance.
The ordinance sets wage levels for workers at certain city-related agencies and properties at $10.88/hour, and also includes minimum health insurance requirements.
“In the ten months that we have been at the bargaining table, AlliedBarton has never offered anything close to a living wage. They offered us only a $.25 raise at first, and then $.30,” stated Sulaiman Kamara, AlliedBarton guard and union Treasurer.
He added, “It’s insufficient and proves that AlliedBarton can’t be reformed. We have been trying for years. They are an embarrassment to our city’s standards. They have got to go.”
Fabricio Rodriguez, the union organizer added, “Either the Museum will be held accountable to their promise to tax payers, or AlliedBarton will be.”
The union now has a new war cry: “No contract? No money! AlliedBarton has got to go!”
Rodriguez believes that the union has enough votes in City Council to take away the City’s contribution to the Museum.
The Museum will appear before City Council on April 11 at 12:45 pm to request $2.4 million in city funds. The union has called for a mass protest at city hall at that time.