Occupy Wall Street and Sotheby’s art handlers have joined forces under the banner of fighting for worker’s rights and protesting corporate greed. Yesterday, members of Occupy Wall Street, an ongoing camp-out/protest in New York’s financial district, disrupted a Sotheby’s art auction to show their solidarity with the union art handlers of Teamsters Local 814 who have been locked out of their jobs since early August.
Occupy Wall Streeters stood up one by one in the middle of the auction (see video below) and announced statements condemning Sotheby’s attempts to de-unionize their art handlers.
In a statement provided to Hyperallergic via email, Sotheby’s spokesperson Diana Phillips noted that “Sotheby’s reacted swiftly and each individual was promptly escorted out of the salesroom, with the auction continuing without incident.” She also mentioned that the auction, a mid-season Contemporary sale, was the “best such sale in three years.” Occupy Wall Street members at the auction did not hesitate to call out Sotheby’s for shafting their workers despite the record profits the company has been enjoying this year.
Occupy Wall Street released this statement in support of the Teamsters’ efforts to negotiate a new contract with Sotheby’s (via truth-out.org):
Occupy Wall Street supporters are appalled at the persistent attack on workers rights. We support the right of the workers to collectively bargain. Sotheby’s wants all new hires to have no collective bargaining rights, no health benefits and no job security. After locking out their unionized work force, Sotheby’s continues to operate using scabs and a non-union subcontractor. Sotheby’s art auctions epitomize the disconnect of the extremely wealthy from the rest of us.
We have reached out to the art handlers and Teamsters for comment and will post them when they become available.