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Ronald Rabena, AlliedBarton Philadelphia Division President, sent a written response to Councilman Greenlee yesterday. The letter was in response to Councilman Greenlee's forwarding a letter that Timothy Rub (Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) wrote to Councilman Greenlee, expressing his wishes to the Councilman. Mr. Rub, wished that AlliedBarton would start negotiating with the Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU). Mr. Rub also wished that he would also get $2.6 in tax money for the museum.
It was almost a secret wish, sent only to Councilman Greenlee. Thankfully, Councilman Greenlee sent on Mr. Rub's wish to the people who can actually grant the wish, AlliedBarton.
Mr. Rabena, in his responce, denying the guards the right to begin bargaining at this time, states some interesting things.
When the PSOU won the election, AlliedBarton said "we look forward to working with the union." Then, a couple weeks later, they filed objections to the election.
Just a quick post on the Museum's budget request hearing today. I have a big foundation deadline tomorrow and it's gonna be tight, but I wanted to be sure to give you the highlights.
Councilman Goode was the real show stopper today. He asked a lot of tough questions.
His line of questioning began by a reference to the Philadelphia Minimum Wage ordinance, a bill that he crafted and passed. The legislation states (roughly) that city related agencies, or institutions that get money from the city and that have 35 employees or more, have to pay 150% of state or federal minimum wage, depending on what is higher ($10.87/hour vs AlliedBartons $9.54 and $10.03). The ordinance also mandates the employer to provide the same benefits package to employees as that of the lowest paid full time employee. This provision applies to sub-contracted labor as well.
Join us to make sure that Timothy Rub means what he said!
What is the museum prepared to do when AlliedBarton tells them that they will not respect the voice of their workers.
Where: City Hall, NE Corner (bring ID)
When: Today! April 12, 1:30
At a budget hearing on Monday the Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU) will demonstrate to find out if Museum Director, Timothy Rub will declare his intention to end his contract with the security company, AlliedBarton, if the company does not recognize their union.
The rally happens a week after Mr. Rub declared his support for the union. City Councilors plan to clarify what the statement meant.
The activists have been raising concerns around $2.3 million allocated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) in Mayor Nutter’s 2011 budget proposal.
Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) Director Timothy Rub had remained neutral in the unionizing effort of AlliedBarton security services guards posted at the Museum. Yesterday, however, union activists who were lobbying members of Philadelphia City Council were surprised and excited to find out that Museum leadership had declared its support for the union in a written statement to City Councilman At-Large, William K. Greenlee.
“We were making the rounds and were getting a lot of positive feedback when Councilman Greenlee caught us in the hallway and showed us the letter,” said Walter Lunsford, AlliedBarton employee and activist in the independent Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU).
“We couldn't believe it. We look forward to working with Mr. Rub to improve museum security and working conditions,” Lunsford said.
I an exerpt my post last week on www.ThatFinalStraw.com...
These are tough days for all of Philadelphia.
Working people will bear the brunt of these cutbacks, which may include paying for their trash collection, extra taxes on sugared beverages, and staffing shortages at libraries and public pools.
Philadelphia is a generous city. Even during this decline, our city leaders continue to support the Philadelphia Museum of Art abundantly.
Of the mayor's proposed budget matches our support in all areas related to the museum from our support in 2008, we will contribute to the museum five buildings and land worth $171 million, $3.4 million for the museum's electricity, and a further $2.3 million of our tax money as a direct contribution.
The museum is, by far, our city's most supported non-profit institution garnering a staggering $176.5 million in tax payer resources.
Philadelphia loves our museum.
However, we are a working city and we love our workers too.
For more than 2 years the Philadelphia Security Officers Union has been trying to improve the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Their calls for improved training, safety, worker retention, better wages and benefits have been ignored.
Today, due to all that is at risk, the museum guards broke their silence about the training deficiencies during a press conference on the "Rocky Step (read the KYW report here)."
Please note, the What Would Picasso Say rally is rescheduled until February 25 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm at the West door (by Fairmont Park)
For years now, Jobs with Justice has been working with security guards in Philadelphia to professionalize this industry.
There are 16,000 security guards in our city. These jobs are among the most deadly in our city. In fact, only police officers are more often murdered on the job during violent incidents.
Despite that fact, security guards tend to earn poverty wages, lack access to quality health care and have few opportunities to career advancement. The guards that protect our city’s most precious cultural treasures earn a median income of $16,000 per year.
That’s why when security guards in our city reached out to Jobs with Justice wanting to fight to improve their lives and safety at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, we were excited to get involved.
The union is has a program to improve some pressing safety issues at the museum. Why, then, is Timothy Rub preventing these urgent safety upgrades?
Read more after the jump or at www.ThatFinalStraw.com
Workers Regain Collective Bargaining Rights After 17 Years
The two year effort to form an independent labor union for the AlliedBarton security guards at the world famous Philadelphia Museum of Art finally resulted in a victory for the union this weekend. The formerly unionized guards lost their union in 1992 when the jobs were privatized by then Mayor Ed Rendell.
“It is hard for any group of workers to join a union,” says Cecelia Lynch, museum guard and union activist.
“But we knew that it was the only hope that we had to fix the problems that we faced on the job.” Further states Lynch.
It is rare and difficult for a group of workers to form their own union.
The newly formed Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU) was created by guards from around the city and by the community organization Jobs with Justice over a two year period.
“We hope that AlliedBarton will now work with us to agree on a fair contract in a reasonable amount of time.” Says Fabricio Rodriguez, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice.
The union provides some hope to a growing segment of Philadelphia’s workforce, private security guards, which currently lack union representation and have few opportunities to join a union. There are an estimated 10,000 private security guard in the Philadelphia region.
Security guards are prevented from joining most labor unions due to the Section 9 (B) 3 of the National Labor Relations Act.
This clause of the National Labor Relations Act states that security guards must join “security guard only unions,” of which there are few.
Letter City Councilors William Greenlee And Blondell Reynolds-Brown Tells Guards That City Law Protects Against Employer Claims
Leaders from the Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU) expected their employer to warn that a vote for the union was a vote to loose their jobs. Union organizers hope that a letter from City Councilors William Greenlee and Blondell Reynolds-Brown that points out that even if the company decided to leave the contract behind, their jobs would be protected by the Philadelphia "Protection For Displaced Sub-Contractors" Law.
Security guard cheering on the Welcoming Change Party
For two years, guards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have tried to win dignity for themselves and their families. But, they've been ignored.
Along with guards, thousands of JwJ supporters have let museum leaders and the employer, AlliedBarton, know that wages that fall below the Federal Poverty Guidelines, bad and expensive health care and inadequate training are not good enough for the men and women who protect our city's most priceless cultural treasures.
Have they heard us? No. We too have been ignored.
But not anymore. We're going to put 100 volunteer organizers into the museum to let the guards know they have the power to never be ignored again. Can you donate now to help Jobs with Justice get these organizers in the door? Click here: https://secure.ga3.org/08/PhillyDonate
It is almost unheard of that a group of workers will try to form an independent union. Having worked with these security guards for almost two years, having sat down with several labor unions without finding a home, after forcing museum leaders to give a few paid sick days to see them whittled away in the fine print, after writing letter after letter, making phone call after phone call to try to work with the museum leaders to lessen the horrible working conditions, the security officers at the Museum of Art have decided to try there hand at forming a new, independent, worker-led labor union.
Since the PSOU doesn't have the backing of an established labor union nor the resources, we will need the help of volunteers and activists who care about workers rights to pitch in. If you'd like to get involved, please contact me at 215-670-5855.
My press release from this morning...
Volunteers Panhandle To Help Timothy Rub Pay Its Security Bill
On Sunday, volunteers from Jobs with Justice stood outside the doors of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with paper cups and asked visitors for change, both figuratively and literally.
“Earlier this year, the Museum announced that it would not give its security guards their annual 25 cent per hour raise,” explained Fabricio Rodriguez, Executive Director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice, “so we’re out here today asking for change. We are trying to earn their raise back for them – one quarter at a time.”