After Lots of Arguing and Arrests, Museum Workers Finally Sign a Contract

Categories: Labor
A free exhibit!

Just a month ago, angry museum workers had flooded the deYoung and Legion of Honor buildings, barricading the entrances, and giving the public (and management) a performance of a lifetime. Some 19 workers were arrested, and it appeared that a signed contract was nowhere near.

But that was last month, and like every dysfunctional relationship, there's been a lot of on-again, off-again between museum workers and management.

Right now, things are on. SEIU Local 1021 announced today that members at the de Young and Legion of Honor museums voted to ratify a contract this week. The vote came after more than a year of very tense negotiations, which obviously escalated over the summer.

Simply put: Labor finally got a decent deal.

Workers had been rather angry because museums had accumulated some $19.6 million in unrestricted net assets over the past two years, yet were demanding lower wages for future hires and skyrocketing health care costs, according to the union.

"Once it was clear there was no financial need or basis for management's aggressive tactics, we began a series of highly publicized actions to show the public what was happening," said Mark Garrett, a museum tech at the Legion of Honor.

In August, museum workers had overwhelmingly authorized a strike, which was then approved by the San Francisco Labor Council. That's when Mayor Ed Lee decided to play the role of a couples' therapist, and demanded management come back to table and start talking. Alas, communication worked, and the two sides were able to strike a deal in less than a month.

Here's the gist: To keep up with the increasing cost of living, museum employees will receive a 10 to 18 percent pay raise over the three years of the contract. Workers will get an immediate 3 percent pay increase and another 3 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2013. In return, union members will pay part of their healthcare on a sliding scale that starts at $25 a month for employees, $50 for one dependent, and $75 for families, according to museum officials.The rates will rise over the life of the contract.

Aaaand scene.

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