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We reached out to Sotheby’s and Teamsters Local 814 President Jason Ide for comment on yesterday’s settlement of the 10-month lockout of unionized Sotheby’s art handlers in order to better understand their perceptions of the resolution.
When we reached out to Sotheby’s for a reaction, their communications department emailed Hyperallergic the following statement:
“Sotheby’s is pleased that it has reached a new collective bargaining agreement with Local 814 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents Property Handlers employed at Sotheby’s.”
In a phone conversation with Jason Ide, he clarified their take on the settlement. He explained that “the breakthrough happened when the company changed law firms. The new agreement included better work rules, hours and other terms and conditions.”
“The members are happy to go back to work. The guys like their jobs and none of them wanted to leave the industry. It is kind of sad that it happened in the first place,” Ide said.
He credits a number of factors that helped them reach an agreement but I specifically asked him about the role OWS played as the group was highlighted for special credit in the Teamsters’ May 31 press release.
“Occupy Wall Street was enormously helpful and we’re happy they adopted us from the beginning,” he said. “It was certainly helpful in generating national media. More importantly Occupy Wall Street gave it a bigger context that people were able to relate to. They created a framework that has helped changed the national discussion with the notion of the 99% and the 1%.”
I asked Ide what he would say to people who say that the union didn’t get enough. “I would challenge you to find a strike or lockout that has lasted 10 months where workers have preserved their wage and benefit packages,” he said.
What’s next? “Our guys go back to work and can be the A-team of art handling and we’re going to continue to be a presence in this industry. We’re going to help advocate for all workers and help be a voice for them in the art world,” Ide said.
Top images by Hyperallergic are from last fall’s protests in front of the Sotheby’s headquarters on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.