Thursday, October 20, 2011

Art world to Sotheby's: 'Stop your idiotic lockout!'

In front of Sotheby's
New Yorkers are buzzing about Sotheby's lockout of Teamsters art handlers since they joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to mock and embarrass the 1% who have anything to do with the auction house.

Today, busloads of OWSers descended on the Sotheby's picket lines, Stars and Stripes flying, as they made a mighty racket chanting "Union Power, Teamster Power." Reporters and photographers eagerly recorded the drama as a dozen police officers -- and some very pissed-off Sotheby's employees -- looked on. Teamsters showed the OWSers how to walk the line and, after a few awkward moments, all were picketing by two giant rats and shouting each others' chants:
One, we are the people, two a little bit louder, three, we want justice for all workers one.
The workers united will never be defeated
Mic check
Tell me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like
We want a fair CONTRACT
OWSers taught the Teamsters how to do a mic check, and Tommy McAllister thanked them all:
You guys are an inspiration to us. We've been out for a long time. We're not giving up until someone goes down, and I'm not going down.
Before breaking up the rally, Teamsters and OWSers hugged each other. Yup, Teamsters hug.

The energetic rally followed a series of disruptions by OWSers Merry Pranksters, a loose, anonymous band of mischief makers who put a new spin on traditional labor tactics. They put up a video of the commotion they created at two Danny Meyer restaurants on youtube. It's been picked up by the New York and Washington DC foodie blogs. The Merry Pranksters have disrupted auctions. And they infiltrated a lavish party at Sotheby's, creating a jaw-dropping videotape of a snooty 1 percenter making fun of the Billionaire's Walking Tour: "'We are poor, we are hungry, we are coming to your house.' Ha-ha."

She walked the line with us
The story of the lockout has gone global, with international news networks as well as the major New York publications sympathetically covering the plight of the art handlers. Photos of Susan Sarandon's visit to the picket line made the New York Post and People.

The art world is getting disgusted with Sotheby's intransigence. Artnet today published this screed:
Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, people everywhere are turning against the super-rich in a dramatic demonstration of public conscience. The last thing the art world needs, then, is headlines tying it to the oligarchic 1% (whose gut feeling for symbols of sophistication, i.e. artworks, fuels our vigorous art economy). So what the hell is up with Sotheby's idiotic lock-out of its art handlers union, now entering its third month?
OWS activists have already disrupted one Sotheby's auction with a protest against ostentatious wealth, and were reportedly planning to demonstrate at the auction house's York Avenue headquarters today, Oct. 19, 2011. Can someone wake up Sotheby's board chairman Michael I. Sovern and Sotheby's CEO William F. Ruprecht and tell them to settle the damn dispute? It's time to push the art world over towards the enlightened side.
Let's hope Sotheby's wakes up soon.