Those of you headed to the de Young's weekly nightlife event are in for a performance of a different kind tonight. According to a press release from SEIU 1021, artists, city workers, public officials, and labor leaders plan to protest and "engage in an act of civil disobedience" in support of museum workers during tonight's "Friday Nights at the de Young Museum" from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Protesters claim that museum managers with the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums (COFAM) have misrepresented facts and information regarding collective bargaining rights, wages, and benefits for workers. According to the press release, "With a $19.6 million increase in unrestricted assets, the museums are financially sound yet this group of artisans, technicians, retail workers, et al. have been battling intimidation, anti-worker tactics, and unnecessary cuts for almost a year. Managers are also looking to cut wages for future workers by as much as 70 percent, creating a second class of workers and further dividing the workplace."
This isn't the first time SEIU 1021 has protested the de Young over worker rights. In May, SEIU staged a protest during the museum's "Young at Art" celebration for S.F.'s public schools. Here's video from the May protest:
Ken Garcia, Director of Communications and Government Relations for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), which includes the de Young and the Legion of Honor, said that the museum is prepared for the protest tonight. As to SEIU's claims, Garcia wrote in an e-mail, "It is completely ludicrous that our workers are treated any way but fairly. The union employees at the FAMSF are already paid considerably above market rate and in our last contract offer, we offered our union employees a 12 percent pay raise over three years, the most lucrative contract offer in recent San Francisco history, and one that is four times higher than any of the contracts recently approved by other city unions this year."
He also noted that, "...it is the union's own members who have spent months putting together the education and art programs for families and children that union leaders have allegedly targeted tonight as part of their misguided efforts to continually demonstrate for the cameras rather than negotiate at the bargaining table.''
Joining the fight are Supervisors John Avalos, Eric Mar, Christina Olague, Archbishop Franzo King, local members of the art community, and around 90 museum workers.
"These workers are the heart and soul of the museum and should be paid a fair living wage. As the museum is doing so well financially, the workers should be able to reap the benefits of their hard work and dedication," said Ester Hernandez, a visual artist based in San Francisco.