“Six of the seven permanently laid off workers played key roles in last year’s effort to win union recognition and improve working conditions,” Local 814 tells Hyperallergic.
Employees of UOVO, a high-end art logistics company, launched a campaign to organize with Teamsters Local 814 earlier this month.
“The tactics used against us have been brutal, nasty, coercive,” said one of the workers employed by UOVO, a high-end art logistics company. “What we’re asking for is just the ability to bargain as equals.”
The following is the full text of the press release by the Teamsters union regarding the settlement between Sotheby’s auction house and the 42 union art handlers.
To add to our continued coverage of Occupy Wall Street updates today, the ties between OWS and Sotheby’s locked-out art handlers are growing stronger. Artinfo posted today that the art handlers are joining Occupy Wall Street in a protest against the movement’s eviction from Zuccotti Park earlier this week. The Teamsters or Local 814 are picketing outside of Brookfield Properties (3 World Fiancial), who owns Zuccotti Park. Diane Taylor, director of the board at Brookfield also happens to be on the board of Sotheby’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s long-time girlfriend. What a lucky coincidence.
At the huge protest by the Local 814 art handlers in front of Sotheby’s this Wednesday, the divide between the 1% and the 99% in the art world could not have been clearer. While protesters chanted, whistled and booed from the heavily barricaded picket lines, wealthy auction attendees were rushed into the building by security. Wednesday marked the second of two major contemporary art sales at the auction house that included million dollar masterpieces by Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, de Kooning and Gerhard Richter to name a few. This high profile sale was the most opportune time for the art handlers to make their voices heard and let Sotheby’s know that will not accept no for an answer on a better contract agreement.
Before heading to Sotheby’s I met with members of Occupy Museums at Zuccotti Park who have taken on the struggle of the locked-out art handlers and have joined them in protests against Sotheby’s. After searching through the maze of tents that have recently sprung up in the park, I finally found Blithe Riley holding a mini General Assembly to get participants ready for the evening’s action: Occupy Sotheby’s. Riley, who is a member of Occupy Museums and the OWS Labor Outreach Committee, told the small crowd, “Occupy Wall Street stands with organized labor.”
In one of the biggest protests against Sotheby’s lockout of the art handlers of Teamsters Local 814, over 200 people, including members of Occupy Wall Street and students from Hunter College and NYU, came to the auction house’s offices on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to demand the fair treatment of workers.
First Sotheby’s locked out their art handlers, and now they are locking out the general public. GalleristNY reports that the auction giant is limiting access to its 10 floor galleries where some of the houses’ most valuable lots are on view before this week’s sales.
Teamsters representatives have been circulating a letter to Chelsea galleries indicating that they will be protesting jobs by Crozier Fine Arts, who they say have crossed their picket line by partly replacing their workers at Sotheby’s. The Teamster are finding back and threatening to protest all future jobs by Crozier.
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.