SEIU 1021 activists arrested at San Francisco's deYoung Museum
KPFA Evening News, 09.08.2012
On September 7th, 2012, SEIU 1021 members were arrested barricading the entrance to "Friday Night at the deYoung," a weekly art event at San Francisco's deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park, in support of museum workers in bitterly contested contract negotiations.
KPFA Weekend News Anchor: Nineteen people were arrested last night after blocking the entrance to the de Young Museum during the weekly “Friday Night at the De Young Museum” event in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. More than 300 people, including museum workers, clergy members, artists, and city and nonprofit workers, had also arrived in buses and streamed into the museum in support of museum workers organized in SEIU 1021. The workers have been locked in a labor fight with the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums (COFAM) for almost a year. KPFA’s Ann Garrison filed this report.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: There was plenty of sociable, conversational buzz in the air at last night’s Friday Night at the deYoung Museum, but this time it was mixed with union solidarity chants and the sound of Museum workers being arrested to get management to listen to them and return to the bargaining table. Stephen Lockwood, Senior Art Registrar and Leader of the Bargaining Unit thanked all those who had joined them in solidarity.
Crowd: Who's got the power? UNION POWER! Who's got the power? WE ARE THE POWER! UNION POWER!
Stephen Lockwood: We're only 95 people in this chapter. We are so lucky to have all of you people behind us. (Applause.) We would be so . . . we would be so far behind in this. Yesterday we met with them for the first time across the table in four months! And it was because of you good people coming out and supporting us in these rallies.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: District 11 Supervisor John Avalos promised the museum workers his ongoing support in a fight he said they must win.
John Avalos: I'm encouraged by the great work that you all do for this great city of San Francisco. And I have another reason to be here. I have worked hand in hand with union members, and over the years museum workers in San Francisco have been under series attack, series attack from privatization. They want to cut your jobs, they want to eliminate your hours, they want to reduce your pay, and every time, every step along the way, we have fought back - not won everything, but we have won a lot, and we can't lose this fight.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Also there in solidarity were Supervisors Eric Mar and Christina Olague, Sheriff and former Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and his son Theo, members of the art and labor communities, and Archbishop Franzo King of the St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church.
SEIU 1021 accuses museum managers of attempting to create a two-tiered wage system that disadvantages younger and more recently hired workers. The union also charges that, with a 19.6 million dollar increase in unrestricted assets, the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums does not have a money problem, and is not attempting to break the union because of financial stress. Their anti-labor tactics and intimidation, according to SEIU 1021, are simply in accordance with widespread attacks on labor, including public and non-profit workers.
Thanks to KPFA's Steve Seltzer and SEIU 1021 for the audio recordings included in this report.
For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.