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The Security Guards at the Art Museum are demanding recognition for their union and an end to poverty wages.  Here is their new video presenting their campaign to the incoming CEO of the museum, Timothy Rub:

Welcoming Change at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The guards are also holding a rally next Sunday to welcome Mr. Rub, check it out! Also see below for more information on the campaign from a recent article in Philadelphia Weekly. [alex]

Welcoming Party for Timothy Rub

2 pm, Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, front “Rocky” steps

Join the Philadelphia Security Officers Union and Philly Jobs with Justice as they hold a — “welcoming party” — for incoming museum CEO, Timothy Rub.

Security Guards at the museum earn less than $20,000 per year, below the federal poverty line.

The Philadelphia Security Officers Union supports the Employee Free Choice Act.

We have signed up a majority of the security officers at the Philadelphia Museum on union representation cards.

If the Employee Free Choice Act was law right now, we would already be a union.

March with the Philadelphia Security Officers Union in support of card check and the Employee Free Choice Act

2:00 pm—3:30 pm,
come early and take advantage of the free day at the museum

Featuring NYC’s Rude Mechanical Orchestra! It’s a party!


Financial Insecurity

Museum guards ask new director to hear them out.

By Daniel Denvir

Philadelphia Weekly, August 25, 2009.

On April 19, Jennifer Collazo woke up with a $2,882.47 hospital bill. The 33-year-old Army veteran is a Philadelphia Museum of Art security guard employed by the private contractor AlliedBarton. Collazo pays into the medical insurance offered by her employer, but when she came down with severe neck and back pain on the job, she discovered that her health benefits didn’t even cover things like the ambulance ride.

Paltry medical coverage combined with low wages has driven Collazo and other museum guards to organize the Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU). While the museum and AlliedBarton have rebuffed them in the past, guards hope that the institution’s incoming director, Timothy Rub, will be open to dialogue when he takes charge early next month. Read the rest of this entry »

silkwoodAfter watching the brilliantly-acted and courageous film Silkwood (1983, starring Meryl Streep), I learned the compelling story of Karen Silkwood and her death, which has seemingly been forgotten by America. Karen, only 28, was a union activist working in a Kerr-McGee nuclear power plant in Oklahoma, who died in a suspicious car accident while on her way to meet with a New York Times reporter for a story that would have exposed the company’s dangerous and illegal mishandling of plutonium.

Karen was active in her union, calling attention to the radioactive contamination in the plant, and spent months compiling evidence to show that the company was deliberately covering up the fact that their fuel rods contained imperfections, which could put millions of lives at risk if they sparked a meltdown. The night of her death, many believe Karen was deliberately driven off the road by another car, and her family was later able to sue Kerr-McGee for $1.3 million in damages, but the company admits no wrongdoing.

The nuclear plant where Karen worked was shut down in 1975, one year after her death. When Karen’s story became public controversy, it helped display the dangers inherent to nuclear power, contributing to the amazingly successful anti-nuclear movement that has stopped construction of all new nuclear plants in the US since 1979. Thus is especially important today as some corporate lobbyists are trying to repackage nuclear power as a “clean” or “carbon-free” energy “source.”  In fact, it’s none of those things.

Karen’s story is both a warning and an inspiration – that capitalism pushes companies to sometimes do terrible things to protect their profits, even if it means endangering lives, but also that brave people such as Karen Silkwood, in bringing the truth to light, can challenge us to create a better world.

Here is her entry on Wikipedia for more info. [alex]

Karen Silkwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Karen Gay Silkwood (February 19, 1946 – November 13, 1974) was an American labor union activist and chemical technician at the Kerr-McGee plant near Crescent, Oklahoma, United States. Silkwood’s job was making plutonium pellets for nuclear reactor fuel rods. She died under mysterious circumstances after investigating claims of irregularities and wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plant.

Early life

Silkwood was born in Longview, Texas, the Read the rest of this entry »

bookchinThe Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy

by Murray Bookchin

1982 Cheshire Books

Murray Bookchin (R.I.P., 2006) was one of the most important American theorists of the 20th century. He is most known for pioneering and promoting social ecology, which holds that “the very notion of the domination of nature by man stems from the very real domination of human by human.” In other words, the only way to resolve the ecological crisis is to create a free and democratic society.

The Ecology of Freedom is one of Bookchin’s classic works, in which he not only outlines social ecology, but exposes hierarchy, “the cultural, traditional and psychological systems of obedience and command”, from its emergence in pre-‘civilized’ patriarchy all the way to capitalism today. The book explains that hierarchy is exclusively a human phenomena, one which has only existed for a relatively short period of time in humanity’s 2 million year history. For that reason, and also because he finds examples of people resisting and overturning hierarchies ever since their emergence, Bookchin believes we can create a world based on social equality, direct democracy and ecological sustainability.

It seems to me this fundamental hope in human possibility is the most essential contribution of this book. In discussing healthier forms of life than we currently inhabit, Bookchin makes a distinction between “organic societies”, which were pre-literate, hunter-gatherer human communities existing before hierarchy took over, and “ecological society”, which he hopes we will create to bring humanity back into balance with nature, but without losing the intellectual and artistic advances of “civilization” (his quote-marks).

Of ‘organic society’ he says “I use the term to denote a spontaneously formed, noncoercive, and egalitarian society – a ‘natural’ society in the very definite sense that it emerges from innate human needs for association, interdependence, and care.” This, he explains, is where we come from. Not a utopia free of problems, but a real society based on the principle of “unity of diversity,” meaning respect for each member of the community, regardless of sex, age, etc. – an arrangement that is free of domination. Read the rest of this entry »

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