Pilgrim and Native American Historical Re-enactors Struggle to Ratify Union Contract by Thanksgiving

Image via Paramount Pictures/Addams Family Values.

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.

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