The guides, who work for a nonprofit foundation, got so fed up with their working conditions that they voted to unionize in February. Their main demands: the ability to use microphones, to cancel tours during bad weather, and to call in sick without feeling they have to find their own replacements.
Whats more, their base pay $45 for a 90-minute public tour hasnt increased in 12 years, the guides said.
With the frigid New England winter approaching, improving their working conditions is an increasingly pressing matter. But as negotiations stretch into their ninth month, little progress has been made.
Unionization has been part of this country since the beginning, guides point out. Their union, the Bellringers Guild, is named for the workers association Paul Revere helped create in the mid-1700s when he was a bell ringer at the Old North Church.
How are we going to be talking about the Boston Tea Party and people overthrowing this oppressive authority without doing it ourselves? said Margaret Ann Brady, a 12-year guide who plays Mary Clapham, a widow who ran a boarding house near the Old State House.
Suzanne Taylor, executive director of the Freedom Trail Foundation, which employs the guides, did not directly respond to questions regarding the unions complaints, but she said in a statement that the foundation has been and continues to negotiate with our employees in good faith in order to reach an agreement for an initial collective bargaining agreement. We respect their right to collectively bargain and to free speech as we continue to work towards an agreement.
The tour guides are part of a wave of workers who have reached out to Unite Here Local 26 on their own in recent years, said spokeswoman Tiffany Ten Eyck. Millennials and professionals are bringing new energy to a movement that used to be largely working class. Public support for unions is at a 15-year high, according to Gallup, bolstered by a string of high-profile strikes, including Unite Heres national Marriott strike of 2018 that resulted in historic gains for Boston hotel workers.
The 30-plus guides work year-round, taking visitors to 16 historic sites along the 2 -mile Freedom Trail, including Paul Reveres house and the site of the Boston Massacre. During peak times, there might be more than 14 tours a day, with groups ranging from as small as one or two people in the winter to 50 during the summer.
More than 4 million people tour the trail every year, according to the foundations website, and the numbers keep growing. This year, some 21 million people will visit Boston, up 1 million from last year, according to the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. And as the size of the tours grow, so does the pressure on guides. And that includes straining their voices to be heard over the din of a noisy city.
Providing portable microphones would solve this, the guides say, but the foundation owns only four and is reluctant to let guides use them. The nonprofit says it takes away from the historical experience.
The idea is absurd because if [visitors] cant hear, that takes them out of the experience, said Emma Wiegand, who has been a guide for four years and portrays Lydia Mulliken, the fiancee of Samuel Prescott, a doctor who was part of Paul Reveres midnight ride.
The honking horns and Dunkin Donuts shops along the trail also arent historically accurate, the guides point out.
Many of the professionally trained guides have side jobs, but the Freedom Trail work is often their primary source of income. In addition to stagnant base pay, they say, discounted tickets also take a toll. Guides receive $2 for each full-price ticket sold on public tours after the first 10 people, but they get only $1 when guests buy reduced-price tickets.
Between April and October, Wiegand estimated, she has lost $407 from discounted tickets.
Guides are also calling for clearer policies for canceling tours when theres lightning or extreme cold or heat. When Tim Hoover started giving tours in 2009, he said, guides were allowed to cancel tours when the temperature dipped below 20 degrees. But they no longer have that discretion.
The foundation directors response: We try not to cancel tours.
Working outside in foul weather can also lead to people getting sick, and tour guides said they are expected to find their own replacements when they are ill. As if thats not hard enough, they said, they are also expected to be entertaining.
You have to walk through freezing rain and make jokes about Benjamin Franklin, said Anna Waldron, a former Freedom Trail tour guide who said management made her come into work when she couldnt find a substitute.
The foundation abides by the state sick time law, Taylor said, which forbids employers from requiring employees to find their own replacements.
The tour guides arent asking for much, said Local 26s Ten Eyck just consistent policies that will preserve their health and safety and its offensive that the Freedom Trail Foundation isnt being more responsive.
In the meantime, guides have used their expertise in history and entertainment to spread awareness about their contract fight. Over the summer, they handed out fliers reading: We cant wait to tell you about the enslaved man who spearheaded smallpox inoculation. . . . We would just prefer to not be sick while doing it.
The guides emphasized they wouldnt be doing this if they didnt love their jobs.
We want to make this the best possible workplace for everyone, Brady said. We want the foundation to succeed.
On a recent sunny day, guide Gabriel Graetz , who plays renowned Colonial-era painter John Singleton Copley, led a tour of 40 people through the centuries-old downtown streets.
Part of being in a living, breathing city is you might get run over, he said, ushering the group to the side of the footpath as a large truck drove onto Boston Common.
Tereza Jurikova , a coordinator of educational tours in Prague, was impressed with what she saw.
I admire the dedication and enthusiasm, she said of Graetz. It seems like the hardest tour guide job Ive encountered anywhere during my travels.
Go here to see the original:
- Melissa Martin: What happens when freedom of the press is silenced? - Cleburne Times-Review - January 1st, 2020
- Bagram's Afghan music night is the American base's other 'sound of freedom' - Stars and Stripes - January 1st, 2020
- Theros: Beyond Death Previews - Glimpse of Freedom and Sweet Oblivion MTG Arena Zone - MTG Arena Zone - January 1st, 2020
- Invest in Freedom: Support the Washington Monthly - Washington Monthly - January 1st, 2020
- Alabama's 200 years in 200 images: Freedom fighting from Iwo Jima to Selma - AL.com - January 1st, 2020
- Letter: Choice is simple freedom or slavery? - Northwest Herald - January 1st, 2020
- STORIES OF THE DECADE: Freedom boys hoops rallies to win 2013-14 state title at buzzer - Morganton News Herald - January 1st, 2020
- Freedom of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation - Royal Caribbean Blog - January 1st, 2020
- Ring in the New Year with Freedom Soup: Recipe - FOX 29 News Philadelphia - January 1st, 2020
- OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media welcomes release of Aseev and Halaziuk - Ukrinform. Ukraine and world news - January 1st, 2020
- STORIES OF THE DECADE: Freedom girls go perfect in 2015-16 for programs 5th title - Morganton News Herald - January 1st, 2020
- Press freedom situation yet to be satisfactory: FNJ - Khabarhub - January 1st, 2020
- Freedom of the Seas 2019 Live Blog - Preview - Royal Caribbean Blog - January 1st, 2020
- Freedom from 3Cs - The Indian Express - January 1st, 2020
- Freedom, Real Dividend of Democracy - THISDAY Newspapers - January 1st, 2020
- Economic freedom, not government programs, the key to poverty reduction - Orange County Register - Daily Gaming Worlld - January 1st, 2020
- Freedom Synonyms, Freedom Antonyms | Thesaurus.com - December 27th, 2019
- Byrne: Freedom from Religion Foundation needs to "stop forcing their ungodly, un-American views down our throats" - alreporter.com - December 27th, 2019
- Western Balkans Have Yet to Embrace Freedom of Information - Balkan Insight - December 27th, 2019
- Video: King Willem-Alexander addresses the Dutch public on Christmas Day, stressing the importance of freedom - Royal Central - December 27th, 2019
- Freedom to offend is a right and essential to democracy, says outgoing press watchdog chairman - The Sun - December 27th, 2019
- Of Concerns and Waivers: Religious Freedom and US Interests in Central Asia - The Diplomat - December 27th, 2019
- Climate tariffs on fracked molecules of freedom: German think tank wants to punish US for sanctions against Nord Stream 2 - RT - December 27th, 2019
- Weekly Wrap: Winter Solstice celebrations and responses | Freedom From Religion Foundation - Patheos - December 27th, 2019
- 'Freedom for All': Enes Kanter finally allowed to travel outside the U.S. for game - The Globe and Mail - December 27th, 2019
- The Colorado Springs Gazette: Happy Hanukkah, a celebration of freedom - coloradopolitics.com - December 27th, 2019
- True freedom is learning to love yourself | Opinion | Pittsburgh - PGH City Paper - December 27th, 2019
- Freedom Of Assembly - The Nation - December 27th, 2019
- A Trump sweatshirt and some thoughts on freedom - LancasterOnline - December 27th, 2019
- To Pay For The Freedom Dividend, Andrew Yang Says Our Mental State Matters To The Math - Forbes - December 27th, 2019
- Freedom Township man arrested after excessive speeds on motorcyle - Record-Courier - December 26th, 2019
- It's Official: 'Freedom Gas' Is the Worst Phrase of the Year - Gizmodo - December 26th, 2019
- In Punjab, the Legacy of the Ghadar Movement Continues to Inspire the Fight for Justice - The Wire - December 26th, 2019
- The Times view on freedom of speech: Taking Offence - The Times - December 26th, 2019
- Students at elite Shanghai university protest the removal of "freedom of thought" from the school charter - Boing Boing - December 21st, 2019
- Why Freedom Gas Was Voted The Worst Phrase Of The Year - OilPrice.com - December 21st, 2019
- Review: Wing Freedom e-bike wins style points and it works great, too! - Electrek - December 21st, 2019
- Explained: Reading Bangladesh provisions for citizenship and freedom of religion - The Indian Express - December 21st, 2019
- Tennessee football: Vols now have freedom to target top 2020 prospects - All for Tennessee - December 21st, 2019
- Andrew Yang: 'If we had a freedom dividend, I would not be the only candidate of color on the stage' - USA TODAY - December 21st, 2019
- My shortwave radio still speaks of freedom | Comment - The Times - December 21st, 2019
- Chinese University Drops 'Freedom of Thought' From Charter - Inside Higher Ed - December 19th, 2019
- Freedom, Peace, and Justice: The Surprising Success of Sudan's Glorious Revolution - Just Security - December 19th, 2019
- The Gift of Fire: The Purpose of Capital as Freedom - Nonprofit Quarterly - December 19th, 2019
- Fuel the Fight for Reason, Individualism and Freedom - New Ideal - December 19th, 2019
- Top Chinese Universities Amend Charters to Remove Reference to Freedom - Radio Free Asia - December 19th, 2019
- Leading Chinese university drops 'freedom of thought' from charter - Bangkok Post - December 19th, 2019
- Jeff Bezos Freedom's Wings Award Highlights the Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards - PRNewswire - December 19th, 2019
- POV: Trump's Executive Order Aimed at Protecting Jews Will Have a Chilling Effect on Freedom of Speech at Colleges - BU Today - December 19th, 2019
- Maple Leafs Prospect Report: Growlers giving Hollowell more freedom, Agostino dominant in AHL and more - The Athletic - December 19th, 2019
- Giving back to those who gave us freedom. - Verizon Communications - December 19th, 2019
- Opinion: The danger facing journalists in Hong Kong is a threat to press freedom everywhere - Los Angeles Times - December 19th, 2019
- Jodie Turner-Smith Reflects On Finally Loving Herself: 'I Hated Myself And Hated The Dark Skin' - Essence - December 19th, 2019
- Harvey Weinstein Is Trying To Buy His Freedom & Innocence. I See Right Through It. - Refinery29 - December 19th, 2019
- Amnesty International Canada Questions Freedom of Speech and Assembly - Reason - December 12th, 2019
- CoE urges Azerbaijan to respect freedom of expression, support IDPs - Emerging Europe - December 12th, 2019
- Lebron and student athletes alike deserve freedom to speak - The Tide - December 12th, 2019
- Fox host lambasts Trump over 'most sustained assault on press freedom in US history' - The Guardian - December 12th, 2019
- Bethlehem Catholic girls basketball shakes off early nerves in win over Freedom - lehighvalleylive.com - December 12th, 2019
- How This 17-Year-Old Rapper Found Freedom In Self-Expression - Yahoo Lifestyle - December 12th, 2019
- European rights body urges Azerbaijan to respect freedom of expression - Reuters - December 12th, 2019
- Minnesota Brothers Have Taught Firearms Safety Together for More Than 50 Years - America's 1st Freedom - December 12th, 2019
- Freedom wrestling rolls to championship at Battle of Bethlehem - lehighvalleylive.com - December 12th, 2019
- Hong Kong's Struggle Against Tyranny, and Why It Matters - City Journal - December 12th, 2019
- OSCE warns Albania not to block freedom of expression online - The San Diego Union-Tribune - December 12th, 2019
- Democracy in Iraq Depends on Press Freedom - Foreign Policy - December 12th, 2019
- National Security Podcast: Freedom of the press - Policy Forum - December 12th, 2019
- Interview: the Scottish Information Commissioner on freedom of information - Holyrood - December 12th, 2019
- How the U.S. was able to win Princeton University students freedom from Iran - NJ.com - December 12th, 2019
- Charlottes bad names, Matthew McConaughey, and Metro standing - Black And Red United - December 12th, 2019
- View: Women riding vehicles are busy wresting their freedom to be a person, forgetting their worst fears - Economic Times - December 12th, 2019
- Sea Ray and Freedom Boat Club win National Safety Awards - Yahoo Finance - December 2nd, 2019
- Freedom From Religion Group Speaking Out Against Kanye West Program in Jail - All On Georgia - December 2nd, 2019
- Facts are under siege. Now, more than ever, we need to invest in journalism - The Guardian - December 2nd, 2019
- Australias proposed defamation law overhaul will expand media freedom but at what cost? - The Conversation - Australia - December 2nd, 2019
- Opinion/Editorial: Law preserving freedom of action should stay - The Daily Progress - December 2nd, 2019
- YouTube CEO on censoring content: Balance responsibility with freedom of speech - Yahoo Celebrity - December 2nd, 2019
- Sakharov Walk of Freedom: inauguration ceremony | News - EU News - December 2nd, 2019
- Book on US religious freedom starts with the Founders but forgets seeds of secularism - National Catholic Reporter - December 2nd, 2019
- Understanding the SCAs freedom of expression judgment - Daily Maverick - December 2nd, 2019