Monday, August 31, 2009

Philadelphians Beg For Change at the Museum of Art

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.”

Nickels and dimes aside, there is a deeper change being sought by Jobs with Justice (JwJ) and the Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU), an organized group of security guards at the Museum that seek a union. JwJ and PSOU have been asking for a meeting with Museum leaders since 2007, to no avail. They are hopeful that the incoming Director of the Museum, Timothy Rub, will be more receptive to their requests for discussion.

“We know that a multi-million dollar budget can only be stretched so far,” smiled Eduardo Soriano-Castillo, Lead Organizer with JwJ. “Maybe if Mr. Rub sees that Philadelphia is willing to pitch in to assure the guards the minimum of what they deserve, he will talk to us.”

Rodriguez added that he believes in Philadelphia and the value our city puts on social justice. “If Timothy Rub takes a stand in favor of family-sustaining wages, I am convinced that Philadelphians, as a gesture of support, will be even more willing to donate to the Museum.”

In one hour JwJ raised $106.83 in pocket change – more that it would cost to give twenty five guards their entire raise for one day. Based on that figure alone, JwJ is calling on the Museum to try harder to find the funds to support their guards. “And if they are having trouble figuring out how to raise the money,” said Rodriguez, glancing at his fellow volunteers, “we’ll be happy to show them how we did it.”

Sunday’s theatrical display by activists is one of numerous actions that have been taken on behalf of the security guards’ fight – and it will not be the last. JwJ and PSOU recently released a documentary, entitled “Welcoming Change.” Addressed to Timothy Rub and available to the public online, the film features PSOU guards telling their stories and asking to simply be heard.

In addition, JwJ and PSOU are planning a welcoming party for Timothy Rub this Sunday, September 6 at 2 pm at the Museum.

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