The 10-month-long lockout of the Sotheby’s art handlers has come to a close, according to Crain’s New York. The new three-year deal boosts wages only 1% per year—considerably less than inflation—but protects existing union positions, raises starting salaries, and maintains benefits
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.
During last week’s Occupy Museums protest at MoMA, a red and black banner was suspended by the crowd on the fifth floor landing into the museum’s atrium. Security quickly confiscated it, and has yet to return the piece. As Occupy Museums states, institutions nationwide are negotiating with OWS art groups to acquire archival materials, so in an open letter to MoMA, OM has declared terms for the artwork’s acquisition.
Sotheby's held its best auction in three years last night, while just outside its heavily-guarded headquarters at 1334 York Avenue over a hundred students, union workers, and Occupy Wall Street protesters picketed the auction house’s lockout of 42 union art handlers. Chanting such teamster slogans such as “What's disgusting? Union busting!” and blowing whistles in front of a pair of inflatable mascots – one a rat, the other a fat cat squeezing a worker in its fist – the protests had seemingly little effect on the auction, which cleared an estimated $315.8 million and exceeded the high estimate of $270.8 million. The art handlers have been locked out by the auction company over a contract dispute that began July 29.
It’s not a strike, it’s a lock-out. Sotheby’s barred its team of art handlers from entering the building last Friday, bringing ongoing negotiations to a halt. Collectors have need for concern; the company has supposedly replaced its experienced team with low-paid, temporary workers with little or no art handling backgrounds.