We received a press release from Occupy Wall Street activists explaining their action:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Michael London, 917-572-8684
Thursday, October 13
#OCCUPYWALLSTREET Disrupts Dinner Rush at Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café
OWS Pushes Sotheby’s Board Member To Take Action on Teamster Lockout
As part of their ongoing campaign against Sotheby’s auction house, Occupy Wall Street labor activists on Thursday evening took aim at New York restaurateur Danny Meyer. Meyer sits on Sotheby’s board of directors. The dinner rush disturbances were coordinated at two of Meyers’ posh downtown establishments. Protesters informed diners about violations at the restaurants themselves, and about Sotheby’s ongoing attacks on the professional art handlers of Teamster’s Local 814. The Sotheby’s workers were locked out of their jobs on 1 August for refusing to accept wage cuts, caps on overtime and replacement by temporary workers.
The activists created a commotion while others hand flyers to shocked diners. The flyer described health violations at Meyer’s restaurants and stated, “What’s Gross at Gramercy Tavern (or Union Café) and other Danny Meyer restaurants? Diners for good jobs and clean kitchens.”
The disruption was the latest in a series of solidarity efforts by Occupy Wall Street activists. On Tuesday, they disrupted an auction at the auctioneer’s Upper East Side establishment for the second time in three weeks. Sotheby’s enjoyed record profit in the last quarter and offers no explanation for why it is attacking its workers.
“Danny Meyer’s restaurants are all part of the Sotheby’s economy, where wealthy millionaires cut corners to make a few more bucks,” said activist Harrison Magee, a labor activist affiliated with OWS. “Not because they need to, but because others are doing it and they think they can get away with it.”
“This is about the 1 percent trying to squeeze even more out of the 99 percent,” said Steve Kindred, an OWS labor activist. “This isn’t about left and right, it’s about top and bottom.
#OCCUPYWALLSTREET has released the following statement about the situation at Sotheby’s:
#OCCUPYWALLSTREET supporters are appalled at the persistent attack on workers rights. We support the right of the workers to collectively bargain. Sotheby’s wants all new hires to have no collective bargaining rights, no health benefits and no job security. After locking out their unionized work force, Sotheby’s continues to operate using scabs and a non-union subcontractor. Sotheby’s art auctions epitomize the disconnect of the extremely wealthy from the rest of us.
The 43 locked-out workers, all members of Teamsters Local 814, were locked out of their jobs by the company’s management on August 1, in the midst of contract negotiations. Among its demands, Sotheby’s, which just had its most profitable year ever in its 267 years of business and whose CEO, Bill Ruprecht is paid approximately $60,000 a day.