San Francisco CA May 5 2017 Three San Francisco art museums — the de Young, Legion of Honor and Asian Art Museum — are facing criticism from their security guards, who say the museums’ executives are manipulating their schedules to avoid giving the guards full-time pay and benefits.
The security officers and their representatives from the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 (SEIU 1021) told the Government Audit and Oversight Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Friday that the museums are intentionally giving security guards 35-hour workweeks rather than the typical 40-hour workweek that other city employees receive.
A spokeswoman for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which represents the de Young and Legion of Honor, said the matter is between the union and the city since the security guards are city employees. She also said the museum “absolutely refuses any allegations of misconduct.”
Although the city allocates money for the security guards, about half of the guards are paid by a private party, according to the SEIU 1021.
Theresa Rutherford, who represents the guards through SEIU’s Northern California chapter, says the problem stems from institutionalized racism.
“San Francisco prides itself on being at the forefront of the fight for justice and therefore must stop this injustice, which allows the museum guards to be treated differently,” Rutherford said. “They must be restored to 40 hours like everybody else who works for the city. They are not deserving of less, and they are equal.”
Alysabeth Alexander, vice president of politics for SEIU’s Local 1021, alluded to the 150th anniversary of the eight-hour workday on May 1, or May Day.
“Over 50 percent of our workers, because of their part-time situation, are forced to find second jobs or compete for overtime [pay] because they are not able to get the 40-hour workweek,” Alexander said. “So, they do not have the eight-hour day.”
The 35-hour workweek was agreed upon by the union and the city in 2012 so shifts would correspond with the number of hours the museum was open.
“It just seems kind of insane to ask that, just because the museum is only open for seven hours, why pay us for eight? I work in an industry that is 24/7,” said Timothy Sullivan, who has been a security guard for the Asian Art Museum for nearly 15 years.
The committee concluded by stating it would introduce a new hearing on Tuesday to begin resolving the matter and to discuss bargaining.
“I certainly agree with many of the points that SEIU 1021 brought up, and I would like to see the security guards move up to 40 hours a week,” Supervisor Jane Kim said.