Let’s chat about The Philadelphia Museum of Art Union

Artblog Oli Knowles PMA union draft 2


[Panel 1] Two Philadelphia Museum of Art workers, wearing “Philadelphia Museum of Art Union” tee shirts, sit on arm chairs. The one on the left (PMA worker 1) sits on an orange chair and points to their shirt, the other (PMA worker 2) sits on a red chair and points to a picture of the museum that hangs above them in a picture frame.
Title: Let’s chat about…
The Philadelphia Museum of Art Union

[Panel 2] Close-up on PMA worker 2 pointing at the picture
PMA worker 2: The Philadelphia Museum of Art is unionizing!! Why are we doing it? It’s long overdue. With a union, we can create a legally binding contract with the PMA with the support of labor law behind us.

This will give us the power to demand the safety, equity, and protection we deserve. What are some reasons PMA Workers need this?

[Panel 3] Another PMA worker (worker 3) is revealed to be standing behind the red arm chair, leaning one arm against it and speaking with their hands
PMA worker 3: In January of this year, 350+ PMA employees signed a petition for institutional accountability regarding sexual misconduct. This was in response to the sexual misconduct of former employee, Joshua Helmer, which was covered in the New York Times.

The PMA fell into the spotlight again in February, when The Inquirer spoke with 14 PMA Employees, as they detailed the verbal and physical abuse (slapping, punching, denigrating) by the museum’’s former retail director, James A Cincotta towards his staff.

[Panel 4] Another new PMA worker (worker 4) leans against the orange arm chair where PMA worker 1 sits…

PMA worker 4: The first reports of Cincotta’s behavior were brought to the museum in 2015, and resulted in incomplete investigations, “sensitivity training,” or the reports were brushed off. Two years later- – In 2018, Cincotta was let go, but allowed to remain in a ‘member group’ at the PMA. Workers began to contact HR and security in response. In January, museum CEO, Timothy Rub, held an all-staff meeting, pledging to do better.

PMA worker 1: But this needs to be on our terms- we need a safe environment to come forward in instances like these, and protection from retaliations as well as an end to enabling abusive behavior. Anyway, in this last year, worker conversation turned into an organizing committee, the birthplace of the PMA union. In May, we wrote to the PMA asking them to recognize our union.

Narration: The PMA Union, with the help of the NLRB, is working with AFSCME

[Panel 5] The view zooms out to show a set of stairs where two more workers, (workers 5 and 6) are sitting. In the background you can see the backs of the other 4 workers.

PMA worker 5: After the Museum declined, we went into days of negotiations. Public support changed the game, and soon we won an agreement with the museum for an election. If 50% (or more) of the union eligible workers vote ‘yes’ to a union, we win! In June, however, right before the ballots went out…..

PMA worker 6: … The museum furloughed and gave severance agreements to a total of 100+ staff. Then, this week (August 4th) the museum permanently laid off 85 of those workers. Though these folks won’t be in the union, their furloughed votes will still be counted. This upsetting decision seems uncoincidental, but we still believe we’ll win this Thursday, August 6th.

Narration: When there are public means of support for these workers, you’ll know!]

[Panel 6] A wooden picture frame with red mat that includes information on how to support the PMA union
Narration: How do I support the PMA union?
First, go to: -> click ‘support’!
<3 sign the community letter of support <3 use the email template on the site to email the PMA- using your position as a visitor, show your support and call on the museum to refrain from all anti-union activity. <3 follow @pma_union on twitter and instagram, and stay tuned for updates, union votes will be counted august 6th!