Friday, June 1, 2012

Woo-hoo! Sotheby's 10-month lockout is over!

10 months of picketing outside of the auction house.

Great news for the 42 Teamsters art handlers who've been locked out of their jobs for 10 long months. The art handlers ratified a settlement with Sotheby's auction house yesterday. Crain's New York Business has the scoop:
The three-year deal, reached in the last week, boosts wages 1% in each year, lifts the starting salary to $18.50 an hour, and maintains the workers' benefits, according to Jason Ide, president of Teamsters Local 814, which represents the 42 workers. Sotheby's had sought to permanently replace some of the union art handlers with temporary nonunion workers, but the deal protects the positions as union jobs, Mr. Ide said.  
"The most important thing is these guys are going back to work," Mr. Ide said. "They love being art handlers. They got into this line of work because they care about art and taking care of it." 
Sotheby's got added flexibility on overtime and staffing issues, Mr. Ide said.
Props to the art handlers who spent thousands of hours on the picket line. They made history with their creative and energetic direct actions -- taking over the Whitney Museum's board room, embarrassing Sotheby's board members and challenging executives' pay. They inspired many, many working people with their fight to preserve good, middle-class jobs for the next generation.

You may ask why Sotheby's finally managed to come to an agreement with the Teamsters after all the bad press, the embarrassing videos, the disrupted auctions, the rallies around the world.

The answer: Management finally got rid of Jackson Lewis, the notorious union-busting law firm that failed last year to help a German company destroy American jobs. A deal was in the works immediately after Sotheby’s let them go and replaced them with another firm. Reports Crain's:
A breakthrough in the 10-month standoff came last month when Sotheby's replaced its law firm, Jackson Lewis, with Proskauer, Mr. Ide said. Bob Batterman, the Proskauer attorney who represented the National Football League during its lockout of players last year, appears to have been a key figure in the negotiations. He was not immediately available for comment. 
"Ever since that change happened, they wanted to bargain," Mr. Ide said. "We had a breakthrough. We weren't hearing, 'Take it or leave it,' but, 'Let's work towards a resolution.' "
And now, as Joint Council 16 President George Miranda said,
...we begin the job of rebuilding the relationship with Sotheby's, which had always been a good place to work.