Workers at the Please Touch Museum are preparing to vote on forming a union

Please Touch Museum
Workers at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia have voted to unionize. Photo credit MyLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Employees at the Please Touch Museum may be unionizing soon. For helping half a million children and families every year, museum workers say they want fair pay, transparent scheduling and a say in decision-making at the museum.

"Our entire goal here is centered around our love for the institution and our love for the mission of the museum," said PTM United liaison Anand Ghorpadey.

Museum workers have not yet formally voted to become a union, Ghorpadey said, but a supermajority of them have signed union cards.

Ghorpadey says the biggest beneficiary of unionization will be the kids.

"Better working conditions, and a greater seat at the table in decision making, is going to really, really support the work that we do every single day. And one of the biggest beneficiaries of this work is going to be the guests that come to our museum."

However, says Ghorpadey, museum workers do often have to deal with belligerent guests, and they experience a lot of abuse on the job.

"We face a lot of situations where we sometimes fear for our safety, and I think that our safety is not being taken as seriously as we hope that it will in the future," he said.

Since first opening to the public in 1976 on the top floor of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the institution has expanded into the 18,000-square-foot historic Memorial Hall in West Fairmount.

Employees say the museum could not have grown into what it is today if not for hundreds of devoted workers over the decades.

Cherish Christopher, a liaison with PTM United, says it takes a lot to make a museum run smoothly every day.

"This union effort is just a really big push for us to feel connected to our work and also to continue that fight inside of us ... because we are really passionate about our work and we do care about every family and every child that enters our museum," Christopher said.

Ghorpadey said the next steps for PTM United are to solidify the bargaining unit, hold an official vote on whether to form a union, and then meet with museum management to negotiate — "however we are still looking for voluntary recognition from the institution."

Meanwhile, management says they support "all employee's rights to advocate for themselves and their families and are committed to working towards a positive outcome."

CORRECTION: Please Touch Museum workers have not yet formally voted to unionize. The above article has been corrected to reflect this.

Featured Image Photo Credit: MyLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images