After Record Profits, Sotheby's Auction House Locks Out Art Handlers

Aug 02, 2011, 12:49 ET from Teamsters Local 814

Brings in Temporary Staff to Handle Picassos and Rembrandts While Experienced Workers Walk the Picket Line

NEW YORK, Aug. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite a wildly successful year with gross profits topping $680 million, Sotheby's Auction House has locked out over 40 union art handlers, demanding they take major concessions. In place of the experienced staff of Teamsters Local 814 members, Sotheby's will have temporary replacement workers handling the valuable paintings and sculptures of some of the wealthiest collectors in the world.

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"It's hard to believe," said shop steward David Martinez. "We contributed to the company's success, and now they want to slash full-time jobs and replace us with non-union, temporary positions."

"It seems to me that they are putting the whole operation at risk," said Local 814 President Jason Ide. "Putting multi-million dollar works in the hands of a temporary crew is not a good idea."

The workers were surprised to receive letters on Friday, July 29 telling them not to come to work on Monday, especially since Sotheby's had made statements in the media promising to spend "as much time as necessary" at the bargaining table to reach a fair agreement.

Of course, not everyone at Sotheby's is being asked to take a pay cut. CEO William Ruprecht's compensation more than doubled in 2010, reaching almost $6 million.

Christie's, the rival auction house to Sotheby's, signed a four-year contract with Teamsters Local 814 in April that added full-time jobs.

Teamsters Local 814 will be holding a rally outside of the Sotheby's New York office on Tuesday, August 2 at 11 a.m.

SOURCE Teamsters Local 814