Workers who depict Pilgrims seek better pay

Mark Pratt
Associated Press

Boston — Workers at a Massachusetts living history museum that depicts 17th century life at the time of the Pilgrims are asking to be treated by 21st century standards.

About 70 unionized workers at Plimoth Plantation, including some of the educators and historical interpreters who dress in period costume, have been involved in a yearlong labor impasse with management. They are bringing their issues to the attention of the public in time for Thanksgiving, the museum’s busiest day of the year, when 2,300 visitors come for a traditional holiday feast.

The union and management have been negotiating a contract since December, when the union was certified. The union also represents some artisans, behind-the-scenes maintenance staff, and Native Americans who dress in historically accurate clothing at the museum’s 17th century Wampanoag village.

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 sides have been meeting twice a month and have a negotiating session scheduled for later this month.

Both sides agree that no museum activities have been jeopardized by the labor standoff, and there are no plans for a strike, said Kristi Schkade, a member of the union negotiating team.