Editor's note: This post contains a correction.
Visitors arriving at San Francisco's Exploratorium on Thursday to take in the wonders of science were greeted with an added spectacle: a protest by employees who are trying to head off the recently announced layoffs of 30 workers.
The action at the waterfront museum, which drew about 80 purple-clad protesters, was organized by SEIU Local 1021, the union representing rank-and-file Exploratorium staffers.
The workers say that management's cost-cutting measures -- including the layoffs of 18 union employees and a dozen middle managers -- are falling disproportionately on lower-paid staff while sparing senior managers. This is the second round of layoffs for the Exploratorium, which laid off 80 employees in 2013 after the organization moved to Piers 15/17 from the Palace of Fine Arts, its home of 44 years.
San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar was among those who appeared at the protest to show support for the workers. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:
“We will fight the layoffs,” Mar said through a megaphone on the Embarcadero. “I and other members of the Board of Supervisors will be watching the Exploratorium closely. No to corporate-type management, yes to workers’ power!”
The protesters and museum officials offer competing claims about who's making what at the Exploratorium. Local 1021 says the average union employee makes $45,000 a year, and contrasts that figure with the salary of retiring Exploratorium Executive Director Dennis M. Bartels, who the union says makes more than $400,000 a year.