Workers at San Francisco's de Young and Legion of Honor museums have voted to authorize a strike if talks between union negotiators and the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums, which manages both institutions, fall through.
The union, which represents about 90 employees at the two museums, charges that museum officials are seeking unreasonable concessions, such as increasing health-care costs, slashing wages for future hires and getting rid of automatic, seniority-based wage increases for recent hires.
"We do not want to go on strike, but we will be forced to if management refuses to work with us," SEIU Local 1021 Vice President Larry Bradshaw said in a statement. "For a nonprofit organization that is community-oriented and culturally high-minded, management's actions are appalling."
Bradshaw added that it's unfair for management to try to push costs onto workers when the corporation saw a $19.6 million increase in unrestricted net assets over the past two years.
Ninety percent of the union members at the two museums approved the strike authorization after their contract expired at the end of July, following nine months of increasingly tense contract negotiations.
Management executives have said that they are not proposing wage cuts for anyone and want museum workers to pay a portion of their health care insurance premiums like city workers. They also dispute the union's characterization of their finances--a spokesman said the museums "barely broke even last year."
"[We made a] fair and generous contract offer," said museum spokesman Ken Garcia in a statement to NBC San Francisco. "We think it's fairly remarkable that this union, or for that matter, any union, would choose to walk away from a double-digit pay raise offer in these harsh and difficult economic times."
This fight isn't the only labor strife going on in San Francisco at the moment.
On Monday, over 2,000 janitors employed at some 400 buildings around the city clogged the streets of the Financial District in a march coming after their union contract, which expired last week. Much like with the museum workers, this action will possibly lead to a work stoppage.
If the museum strike does go through, we're hoping the picketers go with an abstract expressionist theme for their signs.