AFSCME Local 526
Press Release

Stop Layoffs and Union Busting at MPM

The union has planned a picket for Wednesday, March 8th at 5:00 p.m. at MPM.

By - Mar 8th, 2017 12:22 pm
Milwaukee Public Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Public Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

On Tuesday, Milwaukee Public Museum management announced plans to cut $1 million dollars from employee’s wages through layoffs and reduced hours. Fourteen union employees will be affected including the gutting of the world-renowned exhibits staff that made MPM’s acclaimed exhibits.

MPM management referred to the $1 million cut as a “staffing restructure” in a Journal Sentinel article published Tuesday afternoon. This is not a “restructure” at all, it is a $1 million cut at the expense of MPM workers. To call this devastating cut anything less than a hatchet job is insulting to the people who have dedicated their lives to MPM’s mission.

“MPM management is asking for millions in taxpayer money to build a fancy new building, while cutting the staff that makes MPM a special, clean, and safe gathering space for our community,” said Jaclyn Kelly, president of AFSCME Local 526. “Milwaukee will expect the same world-class museum exhibits and services. The loss of the people that do that highly skilled work will decrease MPM’s ability to provide the same educational and family experiences they’ve had for generations.”

MPM claims cutting staff will help them solve problems like poor collections care that puts their accreditation at risk. In fact, chronic understaffing has already posed a significant threat to collections care. In 2005 MPM cut about 40% of the staff, after which the Milwaukee Public Museum was never the same.  Now MPM is taking steps to further decrease MPM’s staffing levels. MPM’s highly specialized custodial, maintenance and security staffs protect collections from elements that can lead to their deterioration, such as temperature and humidity, leaks, and weather events. Cutting their positions puts the collections at more, not less, risk.

MPM has an ongoing practice of displacing union workers with outside contractors and AFSCME Local 526 has reason to believe this so-called “restructuring” in an excuse to further the use of non-union labor. In addition to using non-union labor, MPM’s plan for a new facility is contingent on cutting the staff who can best continue MPM’s standard of world-class exhibits in the next facility. AFSCME Local 526 believes these devastating cuts will hurt the museum’s ability to provide the world-class experience southeastern Wisconsin has grown accustomed to.

MPM has shown little regard for its represented staff and their well-organized and effective union, AFSCME Local 526. Some MPM staff first learned of the layoffs after reading about it in the news on Tuesday afternoon; another slap in the face. Recently, MPM management has shown disdain toward its union employees by retaliating against union leaders and outsourcing union work to outside contractors. MPM management told the union that laid-off positions will not be outsourced, but private non-union contractors are already doing bargaining unit work at MPM. A recent grievance filed by the union against this practice resulted in back pay for lost work after MPM hired a private contractor to do union work. It is no coincidence that four members of the union executive board for AFSCME Local 526 will be affected by these cuts.

Local 526 calls upon the Milwaukee Public Museum and Milwaukee County to maintain the jobs of people personally and professionally committed to providing outstanding public service, education, research, and programs in a safe, clean, child- and family-friendly environment.  Don’t lay off the people who make it happen.”

The union has planned a picket for Wednesday, March 8th at 5:00 p.m. at MPM.

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