Re-enactors and historical educators at Plimoth Plantation—a living history museum in Plymouth, MA—are fighting to come to a contract agreement with museum management before Thanksgiving, the plantation’s busiest day of the year with an estimated 2,300 guests arriving for a historically accurate holiday feast.
According to the Associated Press, the Society of Allied Museum Professionals union—which was formed in December 2016—will present a petition on Tuesday in a down-to-the-wire effort to ratify their contract before the season ends this upcoming Sunday:
The union is seeking job security for members who are let go at the end of every season (which ends Sunday) with no guarantee of being rehired; better staffing levels they say is critical for worker and visitor safety; and better pay for workers, some of whom are paid minimum wage.
The union includes the educators who portray 17th century Native Americans and pilgrims throughout the museum, as well as the facility’s recreated 17th century Wampanoag village, maintenance workers, and on-site educators and historians.
Kristi Schkade, a park educator and union secretary, tells the AP that “management has waged a very intense anti-union campaign ever since we started organizing,” adding, “We believe that they are stalling. Their proposals they know are repugnant and unacceptable.”
Management responds that “there is an established process of union negotiations and we are in that process. We are working hard to reach agreement, however, it takes good faith on both sides—the union included—to do so.”
As members of the Writers Guild (and as fans of re-enactors), we stand in solidarity with the Society of Allied Museum Professionals union. And I’m sure the Grown Men Portraying 19th century Newsies Collective Bargaining Unit does, too.
We’ve received the following correction from a spokesperson for Plimoth Plantation: “Our sites include a 17th Century English Village, where costumed interpreters provide first-person perspective on life in early Plymouth Colony, and a Wampanoag Homesite, where Native staff—representing both Wampanoag and other nations—are dressed in the traditional clothing of Eastern Woodlands people but educate visitors from a modern perspective about their history and culture. The Wampanoag have been on this land for more than 10,000 years and still exist today; our staff are not actors.”
We have corrected any references to the educators and historians of the museum and apologize for the error.