Leaflet from the Fair Labor in the Arts website (via fairlaborinthearts.com) (click to enlarge)

News may be slowing down about the Sotheby’s lock out, but the labor dispute between art handlers of Teamsters Local 814 and the auction giant is dragging into its third month now. Luckily supporters both on and off-line (Occupy Wall Street lent their voice last week) are not shutting up about this issue just yet.

Hyperallergic received a tip over Twitter today that a new site title Fair Labor in the Arts has hit the web in support of the 40 union handlers who are still without work. We checked with Local 814 who confirmed that the site is legitimate. The site claims to be a “broad-based coalition of people in the art world … artists, educators, critics, art handlers, registrars, curators, gallery owners, conservators, framers, and all type of museum workers,” but lists no specific names. The site has launched a petition against Sotheby’s that already includes 118 signatures and counting. See the petition letter below:


I just signed the following petition addressed to: Sotheby’s.

End the unfair lock-out of your art handlers!

Just like there can be no art without artists, there can be no art world or art market without the efforts of the art handler. We call on Sotheby’s to recognize the importance of these workers and reward them for their contribution to the auction house’s success.

As artists, critics, gallery owners, curators, and other members of the art world, we rely upon the knowledge and skills of professional handlers to maintain the integrity and value of our art.

This is not a job to be performed by untrained, low-wage laborers. We call on Sotheby’s to reach a fair settlement with Local 814, and most importantly, GET THE PROFESSIONALS BACK TO WORK!


[Your name]

Besides a forum where you can show your support, Fair Labor in the Arts is also a place where you can find all news on the dispute, including statements released by Teamsters, press surrounding the issue and photos from the protests. Sign the petition today and help the art handlers of Local 814 get the rights that they deserve!

Liza Eliano is Hyperallergic’s editorial assistant by day, and bad TV fanatic by night. She recently graduated from Barnard College with a BA in art history and a newfound love for girl power. She was...