Penn Museum workers seek unionization

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Workers at the Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology announced on Friday that they intend to unionize in affiliation with AFSCME District Council 47 and join workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the local. 397 museum workers and newly formed culture.

Last May, the workers at the Art Museum did the same, and in August they voted to unionize and be represented by the Local Council 47.

“We have collected authorization cards from the overwhelming majority of eligible union staff and are asking for voluntary recognition from museum management,” Penn Museum Workers United said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Penn Museum could not be immediately reached on Friday for comment.

In April, the museum was embroiled in a controversy over the handling of the remains of at least one child who died in the city’s 1985 bombing of the MOVE complex, resulting in the deaths of 11 people inside. The University of Pennsylvania has since apologized for keeping the remains rather than returning them to the Tree Africa family.

Earlier this year, Christopher Woods became the museum’s first black director, which is in the midst of a multi-year, $ 100 million renovation project.

Penn Museum Workers United said in their statement that they “are dedicated to a positive transformation. As physical improvements change the spaces we work in, we recognize the need to reflect on past practices and for a deeper structural change in the way we work, with each other and with the community.

The group added: “This is why we want to form a union. The Museum is committed to removing barriers to equity for our staff, the public, and research and community partners. We, the workers, are the custodians of the collections and are dedicated to the Museum’s mission of uncovering the diverse stories of our common humanity.

District Council 47 represents workers at several local cultural institutions, including the Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Free Library, and the Philadelphia Zoo, as well as nearly 6,000 employees in the city’s public and private sectors.



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kurt watkins

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