|That Upper East Side picket line.|
Sotheby’s union art handlers have been picketing outside the auction house’s Upper East Side flagship for months. It wasn't long before people in the neighborhood began to walk by without paying much attention. One day last fall, Merry Tucker, a retired teacher, was heading to Sotheby’s offices to consign two pieces of Georgian 18th-century silver she had inherited from her mother. Rather than walk right by the Teamsters, she took a pamphlet and read up on the cause. After the sale, she decided to give a portion of the $5,000 she made to the workers, who have been locked out of their jobs since August in a protracted contract dispute.
“I thought, I never did anything to earn this money,” Tucker told us. “My mother stipulated that a lot of her estate go to charity, and when I learned about the workers’ situation I felt a lot of sympathy for them.” Tucker, who said she is appreciative of her own union-obtained health care, was particularly motivated to give after learning that the art handlers’ health insurance expired January 1. (Workers earn unemployment benefits plus an additional $200 a month from their union during the lockout. However, as of the New Year, they are no longer entitled to health care without a contract.) "I was afraid to let them [the union] release my name until I got the money from Sotheby's," Tucker said, "but the check just came."Meanwhile, negotiations are taking a "slightly better tone," according to Julian Tysh. But the art handlers are standing firm on against Sotheby's attempt to slowly dissolve the union.
Stay strong, brothers!