Penn Museum Workers United need your support in their contract negotiations, so they are holding a Rally for Fair Pay on Thursday, June 8th starting at 5:30pm outside the main entrance to the Penn Museum. All are welcome!

AAUP–Penn members as well as friends in other campus and local unions are urged to attend and help send a clear message to Museum management and to Penn that the whole community is watching and it is time to negotiate a fair contract now. All of us who work at this University have an interest in seeing all Penn employees paid enough to live securely in Philly, and in seeing the Museum keep the talented staff whose work it relies on every day.

You can read AAUP–Penn’s letter of support for PMWU here, calling on President Magill, Director Chris Woods, and museum management to accept their reasonable wage proposals. Come show up for our museum worker colleagues and stand in solidarity with PMWU this Thursday afternoon!

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Our friends and colleagues in Penn Museum Workers United (AFSCME DC47 Local 397) are currently negotiating their first contract. They have waited long enough to do so (having organized in May 2021 and endured a relentless anti-union campaign), and there is a lot at stake: above all, wages that would allow them to live in dignity in Philadelphia. A third of PMWU members earn between $15.75 and $20 per hour; they are underpaid compared with their counterparts at other museums, as well as with Penn library workers who perform similar types of work and with Penn housekeeping workers in Teamsters Local 115. If the Museum can afford to spend $100 million on capital projects, it seems clear that it can also afford to pay its workers fairly. In fact, we believe that it can’t afford not to do so. It is in the interest of the institution to retain talented staff and prevent the high rates of turnover and instability that currently result from inadequate pay.

On June 4th, AAUP–Penn’s Executive Committee sent a letter to Penn President Liz Magill, Penn Museum Director Chris Woods, and Penn Museum Chief Operating Officer Genny Boccardo-Dubey calling on Museum management to accept the reasonable wage proposals of our colleagues in PMWU. You can read our letter below.

We stand in solidarity with Penn Museum workers, and we are committed to seeing that the University and the Museum meet their demands and negotiate a fair contract.

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Dear Penn Community,

Penn’s AAUP chapter welcomes all Penn community members back for the 2022-23 year! Please reach out to us at, and please mark your calendar to attend our first general meeting of the year, scheduled for 11am – 12:00pm on Friday, October 14 We’ll discuss, among other things, plans for a compensation survey focused on contingent faculty in connection with the “Who Teaches at Penn?” project, political education for undergraduates about contingent faculty working conditions to broaden our base of support, and any new issues you want to raise. The elected members of our chapter’s Executive Committee are listed below, and we are eager to work with you this year!

AAUP–Penn represents all Penn faculty, and we take “faculty” in its most expansive sense: all those who teach or research at Penn, including tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty, full-timers and part-timers, librarians, grad workers, and postdocs. If you do the work, then you are faculty, regardless of titles assigned by the administration, and without concern for hierarchies imposed from on high. As we have learned in our efforts over the last two years to improve pandemic-era working conditions, to advocate for greater equity and job security for all instructors, to make institutional governance inclusive and collective, to push Penn to pay its fair share in local taxes, and to defend local residents against gentrification, the best way to improve our living conditions is to use our collective strength to fight for all our working conditions and the lives of our diverse communities. 

The last few months have been busy, so here are some updates!

In June, AAUP affiliated at a national level with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. All AAUP members are automatically AFT members, and while we retain our independence we also add to our strength across and well beyond higher education. 

Two AAUP/AFT chapters just reached tentative contract agreements after difficult negotiations, at Eastern Michigan University and Rider University—back in the classroom with great student support, stronger because together! Another, at the New School, is currently working “overtime” to help their unionized colleagues secure basic, fair working conditions. 

The fight to preserve the UC Townhomes at 40th & Market as subsidized, affordable housing continues to gain momentum. Residents are calling on Penn, Drexel, area hospitals, and the City to contribute to a preservation fund to help acquire the site. Recently City Councilmembers Helen Gym and Kendra Brooks issued a statement in support of residents’ right to remain in their homes.

You can also read our article on contingent academic labor at Penn and on the threat of casualization to higher ed more broadly in this year’s Penn Disorientation Guide. Over the summer, in addition to standing with campus and local unions in several contract rallies, we held two Labor Solidarity Happy Hours with Penn and area union members to learn more about each other’s campaigns and as a first step toward building coalitions to support organized workers on our campus and around the city. 

Last but not least, every THURSDAY we will host weekly AAUP-Penn happy hours outside at New Deck Tavern on Samson Street from 4:00-5:30pm. All AAUP-Penn members and friends are welcome, so please come if you can!

In Solidarity,

AAUP-Penn Executive Committee

  • Chi-ming Yang, President
  • Jessa Lingel, Vice President
  • Rupa Pillai, Treasurer
  • David Kazanjian, Communications Secretary
  • Heather Hughes, General Member-Elect
  • Fabian Arzuaga, General Member-Elect
  • Sam Layding, General Member-Elect

Please come out to 40th & Market this Saturday, July 9th starting at 3pm for Philly 4 Housing Fest: a rally and Protect the Block Party! Stand with your neighbors in UC Townhomes (some of the last designated affordable housing in the area) in their ongoing protest against displacement from their homes, and stay for a kid-friendly, all-ages block party. Hope to see you there!

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Penn housekeepers, grounds workers, and transportation workers in Teamsters Local 115 are celebrating a hard-fought contract victory. A campaign led by rank-and-file members won an end to the inequitable two-tier wage system that pays different hourly rates for the same work. Their new contract will phase out two-tier pay over a 5-year period, with annual raises between 3.5–4% putting all housekeepers on a progression to the top-level wage ($28.68/hr) by 2026.

This is a tremendous win in a fight taking place at so many workplaces for equal pay for equal work. Bargaining surveys, rallies at the union hall and on campus, flyers and messaging in multiple languages, outreach to new members, and the determination to vote no if necessary made it happen. Member-led organizing gets the goods! Our warmest congratulations to the Teamsters 115 members who didn’t back down on their core demand and showed us all what’s possible. Solidarity!

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On June 21, members of at least nine campus and local unions along with several regional organizers and national trade unionists got together outside for drinks and solidarity on the rooftop garden at Cira Green. We hope this Labor Solidarity Happy Hour will be the first of many meet-ups of organized and organizing workers at Penn and in Philly so that we can stay connected, support each other’s campaigns, and build strong coalitions across job categories and institutions. Cheers to everyone who joined us, and let’s do it again soon!

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Please mark your calendars and plan to come on Tuesday (6/21) 4:30–6 to Cira Green rooftop park/bar to have a drink together with AAUP–Penn members and many friends across unions at our first Labor Solidarity Happy Hour! Feel free to share the flyer and bring friends, kids, etc.

It should be a nice, relaxed occasion to catch up and to connect with library workers, grad workers and faculty across ranks, staff, Penn Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art workers, maintenance and grounds workers and bus drivers in Teamsters Local 115, and folks from other locals and campus orgs. Excited to see you there!

N.B. We’ve chosen an outdoor location with Covid safety in mind, and masking is encouraged when you’re not eating or drinking. Alternatively, if you are out of town or avoiding in-person social events and would like to attend a separate zoom happy hour: please let us know via this form.

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Get ready for a week of rallies at Penn and in Philly!

  • Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 14) evening, come join museum workers in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union (AFSCME DC47 Local 397) on the Rocky steps at 6pm for a big rally for a fair contract. These workers have kept the Museum running but have been without a contract for 22 months; they need fair pay, affordable health insurance, and protection from harassment at work. Help them send a clear message to the Museum that enough is enough; the time for a fair contract is now! If you can’t be there in person, you can also support them by contributing to their strike fund.
  • And if you are on or near campus this Wednesday, June 15, come stand with Teamsters Local 115—Penn maintenance workers, grounds workers, and bus drivers—at 3pm on College Green for their next rally for a fair contract and against the racist two-tier wage system (flyers for both rallies below).

Let’s show these workers at the Museum and on our campus that we stand with them!

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Members of Teamsters Local 115 (representing Penn housekeeping, maintenance workers and more) and the Philly Security Officers Union rallied together in front of College Hall today (June 2, 2022) for a fair contract with wage increases, no givebacks of their benefits, and an end to the racist two-tier wage system that pays different hourly rates for the same work. AAUP–Penn members came out to rally in support of this coalition of more than 700 essential workers who have kept our campus running through a pandemic and whose work deserves respect. We stand in solidarity with them as they demand equal pay for equal work at Penn and a fair contract now.

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