NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Teamster art handlers and hundreds of their supporters from Occupy Wall Street protested outside Sotheby’s [NYSE: BID] during billionaire Lily Safra’s auction of important pieces from her estate today. The protesters called on Sotheby’s and its board to end a three-months-long lockout at the auction house.
Sotheby’s locked out its staff of 43 art handlers, most of who are minorities. The workers have been without paychecks since July. Sotheby’s has hired worker-hostile law firm Jackson Lewis to attempt to starve its workers into giving up their job security and accepting wage cuts.
The protesters distributed handbills that read, “Sotheby’s Hurts New York Families” and held banners that read, “Sotheby’s Creates Misery.”
“It’s unconscionable for Sotheby’s and Jackson Lewis, who are part of the top 1 percent in this country, to throw hardworking New Yorkers out on the street without paychecks,” said Jason Ide, President of Local 814, which represents the art handlers at Sotheby’s.
Despite making more than $774 million in revenue last year, Sotheby’s continues to insist on the right to eliminate the workers’ retirement plan, and to permanently replace skilled art handlers with inexperienced, outsourced workers.
“The Sotheby’s economy is destroying the lives of too many Americans,” said Sim Jones, a 42-year art handler and member of Local 814.
“The outrageous behavior of this company and its law firm is a perfect symbol of what is wrong with this country, and is one of the reasons there are thousands of ‘Occupy’ protests springing up all across America and across the globe,” said Harrison Magee, an Occupy Wall Street protestor. “The top one percent are destroying families just to siphon a few more dollars their way.”