Art handlers picket Sotheby’s over contract dispute
NEW YORK (AP and ACNI) — Art handlers and Sotheby’s auction house in New York are in a dispute over a new contract. Members of Teamsters Local 814 picketed outside the company’s York Avenue headquarters in Manhattan throughout the weekend and on Monday, carrying signs that said “Stop the War on Workers” and “Locked Out – Sotheby’s – Teamsters Local 814 No Dispute With Any Other Employer.”
According to the Wall Street Jourrnal, Sotheby’s notified its 43 art handlers on Friday that they couldn’t return to work, and hired temporary non-union workers to replace them.
The art handlers were sent letters informing them that they would be locked out beginning on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. Their contract with Sotheby’s expired in July.
In a statement, Sotheby’s Executive Vice President and Worldwide Director of Press and Corporate Affairs Diana Phillips said: “This is not an outcome Sotheby’s wanted. We have been negotiating in good faith since May and had offered a contract with attractive terms which unfortunately [the art handlers] did not accept.”
The lockout is said to have come as a surprise both to workers and officials of their union, who had been of the belief that negotiations would be ongoing. In an article appearing in the Aug. 2, 2011 online issue of Crain’s New York Business, Teamsters Local 814 President Jason Ide was quoted as saying: “We’ve exchanged our proposals, but we’re not even into the heart of bargaining. Clearly somebody over there made a decision they’d rather bargain with us outside, walking the picket line.”
The union says the company wants to offer buyouts and replace some of the unionized art handlers with nonunion labor.
The two sides are set to meet next week.
In 2010, Sotheby’s sales increased by 74 percent. Its major upcoming auctions include a contemporary art sale on Sept. 22.
Information from: The Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.com
Auction Central News International contributed to this Associated Press report.
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