Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Solidarity from Cambodia for locked-out Teamsters

Cambodian union members protest Sotheby's at the National Musem in Phnom Penh.
Cambodian news coverage of Sotheby's crass amorality follows bad press for the auction house in Geneva, London, Melbourne, Hong Kong and New York.

In keeping with its indifference to the rest of humanity, Sotheby's is refusing to return a 10th century warrior statue that was looted from Cambodia's killing fields during the murderous reign of the Khmer Rouge. The statue's value is estimated to be as high as $3 million.

The statue and its twin.
The Teamsters, who represent the 42 Sotheby's art handlers locked out for eight months, asked Cambodian unions to draw attention to Sotheby's bad behavior. On Friday, members of five Cambodian unions staged a protest at the National Museum to demand Sotheby's return the statue. Reports the Cambodian Daily,
The union members, who represent workers in the construction, tourism, civil service, airline, garment and informal sectors, distributed about 100 flyers demanding the prestigious auction house "respect Cambodia's culture" and return the 10th-century Duryodhana statue, which resurfaced on a Sotheby's auction catalog in March 2011.
Press conference.
The union members also held a press conference in which they discussed Sotheby's behavior as well as broader labor issues and the ASEAN People s Forum, which was being held in Phnom Penh.
The leaflets, written in the Khmer language, say:
It's no surprise Sotheby's values money more than morals. Sotheby's has locked out its mostly Latino and black New York aart handlers since August 1, 2011, stopping their paychecks and families' health care. But Sotheby's will use profits made from stolen Cambodian art and cuts in workers' health care to give its CEO a $3 million raise.
Sotheby's did pull the statue from the latest auction. But it won't budge in its efforts to force its workers into poverty,

It isn't clear when Sotheby's will finally understand how its reputation is tarnished by incessant bad press. The news media has covered Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and actress Susan Sarandon joining locked-out art handlers on the picket line. Sympathizers from the Occupy movement have disrupted auctions, fine dining restaurants, universities and museums.  Rather than a status symbol, Sotheby's has come to represent the corruption and callousness of the 1%.