Unionized staff at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), who in October finallyobtained a contractin the wake of a nineteen-day strike, have accused the institution of reneging on a stipulated “longevity pay increase,”Hyperallergicreports. The union alleges that museum CEO Sasha Suda and general counsel Al Suh, speaking at a June 29 union leadership meeting, announced that the institution would not provide the incremental salary bumps agreed to in the contract. According to the union, the contract awarded full-time staff $500 and part-time employees $250 for every five years they worked at the museum, for up to twenty years.
Thus, for example, a full-time employee of ten years would receive a $1,000 raise on her tenth anniversary, and a $1,500 raise on her fifteenth.RelatedHELEN FRANKENTHALER FOUNDATION SUED FOR “DESTROYING” PAINTER’S LEGACYBMA CREATES PAID INTERNSHIPS HONORING VALERIE MAYNARD At the meeting, PMA officials explained that as of July 1, the longevity clause would only apply to workers whose quinquennial anniversaries fell within the three-year span covered by the contract. Additionally, they noted that the increases would be fixed, rather than cumulative. Thus, the hypothetical full-time employee cited above would receive a raise of just $500 on her fifteenth anniversary—the same amount awarded to a colleague celebrating his fifth anniversary.
“This interpretation is nonsensical; it will also have the opposite effect of the intent of the provision,” said the PMA Union in a statement. “Instead of rewarding employees equitably and fairly for their service, management will be causing even greater inequity and confusion to prevail in the museum’s pay structure.” The museum countered in a statement, contending that “terms on longevity were established during the collective bargaining negotiations, when the PMA accepted the final contractual language proposed by union leadership, and members of Local 397 and the PMA’s Board of Trustees ratified that language, resulting in the new collective bargaining agreement.” “The union’s current claim references different longevity language proposed earlier in negotiations by the union and never accepted by PMA. The union never reintroduced this language in its final proposal during negotiations.
The written contract fully reflects the final agreement regarding longevity agreed by both parties.” Both museum officials and union leadership acknowledged that they were committed to resolving the issue through the arbitration process..