Workers at Penn Museum Intend to Unionize

At the end of May, workers at the Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology announced that they intended to form a union.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the employees plan to affiliate with AFSCME District Council 47 and join the Philadelphia Museum of Art workers in the recently formed Museum and Cultural Workers Local 397. Penn Museum Workers United have said that they have collected union cards from a super-majority of union-eligible staff. The union is requesting voluntary recognition from the Penn Museum’s management.

In a mission statement posted on Instagram, Penn Museum Workers United connected unionizing to the museum’s pledge to “tackle barriers to equity for our staff, public, and research and community partners.” The union lists four demands: more employee involvement in museum decisions, improved communication between departments, fair wages, realistic expectations, and job stability, and dialogue and action.

The workers also related the union drive to the recent controversies surrounding racism and the museum’s mishandling of remains from the MOVE bombing. In the statement workers said, “our own diversity of voices can only make the museum stronger. Forming a union will give us a solid foundation on which to build the Penn Museum our community needs– inside and out.”