Tonight at 6 PM, Sotheby’s art handlers will protest outside of MoMA. Why protest? Because they’ve been locked out of their jobs for 8 months, while Sotheby’s continues to prolong contract negotiations. After multiple concessions and attempts to compromise, the teamsters maintain the request that Sotheby’s continues to hire union workers when its current staff retires.
Why MoMA? Because it shares a web of board members, trustees, senior management and consultants with Sotheby’s, and the teamsters will need that kind of influence in order to preserve the union. If you’re still skeptical about Sotheby’s intentions, the company has hired a “preventive labor relations” law firm, Jackson Lewis, which systematically advises companies on the dismantling of unions nationwide.
In its seminar “How To Stay Union Free“, Jackson Lewis reportedly encourages companies to employ aggressive and illegal tactics when dealing with their unions. A 2004 New York Times expose by Steven Greenhouse detailed an account of a Lewis-advised campaign, in which a South Carolina battery factory wrongly fired union leaders, cut workers’ pay, and poured thousands of dollars into union-busting tactics, resulting in the collapse of the union and a shutdown of its own plant. At the time of the article, a representative for Lewis attested that the battery company EnerSys owed the firm $270,000. The longer this conflict continues, the more profits are funneled into firms like Lewis, and away from the workers who made those profits possible in the first place.