British Parliament Censures Sotheby's Auction House

Oct 14, 2011, 20:41 ET from Teamsters Local 814

Workers Demand Schubert Theatres, Sotheby's 'Stop the Discrimination'  

LONDON, Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jason Ide, President of Teamsters Local 814, and Dorian Malloy Jr. a Local 814 member and locked-out Sotheby's art handler, addressed a British Parliamentary hearing on Wednesday. The two discussed their concerns with Sotheby's Auction House, which has locked out 43 of its professional art handlers for nearly three months.

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"Everybody's concerned about the same things: they're concerned about jobs, they're concerned about growth, and they're concerned about unemployment," Ide said. "We have our own issues as well—we have 43 workers who've been locked out at Sotheby's for two and a half months. The boss is trying to starve us out."

Ide's words came on the heels of an Early Day Motion (EDM) censuring Sotheby's Auction House that was signed by 23 members of Parliament. The EDM is expected to reach 40 sponsors by next week.

Sotheby's locked out its unionized art handlers in New York City in the midst of contract negotiations, despite earning a record $744 million in 2010 and recently increasing the salary of its CEO to $6 million. The company is demanding pay cuts, the right to terminate the employees' pension fund, and the ability to replace experienced, unionized handlers with temporary, unskilled workers. These demands have come after NewsCorp's James Murdoch joined the Sotheby's Board of Directors last year.

The EDM reads, in part, "That this House notes that 43 workers at Sotheby's Auction House in New York were locked out of their place of work by their employer in July this year for refusing a new contract that would cut their hours, pay and pensions as well as replace several experienced unionised handlers with temporary unskilled employees. [This House] condemns the contrast between the elite culture of Sotheby's and the poverty imposed on hard-working employees in order to boost Sotheby's profits."

The full censuring motion is on the UK Parliament website.

Ide and Malloy also joined members of several unions at a protest outside Sotheby's London auction house last night. Members representing transport workers, including Unite the Union, the Trades Union Congress, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, the Public and Commercial Services Union, the International Transport Workers' Federation and others protested in a show of solidarity with the New York Teamster members.

Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit for more information.

SOURCE Teamsters Local 814