Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NY Teamsters urge crackdown on rogue art show

Today at City Hall. 
A rogue New York art show won't find it so easy to hire non-union workers from Wisconsin if our New York brothers and sisters prevail on the city.

Frieze Art NY and its management agent, Production Glue, for two years avoided hiring union workers for
a major international art show they staged on public property on Randall's Island.

Today, members of Teamsters Joint Council 16 joined labor and political leaders at City Hall to say that any private business using public parks should hire local New York workers and adhere to fair labor standards. They demanded the city change the parks permitting to enable working-class New Yorkers earn a fair wage.

At the news conference this afternoon, John Ingereri, a member of Local 807, represented Teamster exhibition workers hurt by Frieze Art and Production Glue:
As a New Yorker I think that this is outrageous. These companies are using our parks and running multimillion dollar productions without New Yorkers doing the work. I trust that our Mayor, Council Speaker and CIty Council will do the right thing by changing the rules for the permits so that we have a chance to also succeed at Randall's Island. It is only fair. If you want to run an International event here, you should have to employ local workers that are paid fairly.
George Miranda, president of Joint Council 16, called it "an absolute insult" that Frieze Art NY and Production Glue purposely avoided union labor. Miranda said,
We will not stand for this. We cannot allow a company like Production Glue to take advantage of our tax dollars by signing contracts with the Mayor's office and then turn around and bring in workers from out of state. 
It is up to us, the people here, and the citizens of New York City to put a stop to this.
Companies that engage in union avoidance like Frieze and Production Glue  should not be granted access to our parks. Companies that go out of their way to undermine our standards cannot be allowed to do business on our public spaces. 
It is up to us to move legislation that will force minimum working standards to be followed if you are running a major event in a public space here in NY.
Vincent Alvarez, head of the NYC Central Labor Council, said both companies were evading responsibility for their actions:
Frieze NY claims Production Glue is responsible, Production Glue claims Frieze NY is responsible. These excuses are not good enough for New York City’s union workers and they are certainly not good enough for our community. These should be good, local jobs that support our economy and the hard-working working families of New York City.
Several City Council members were on hand to voice their support for the unions. Councilmember Jessica Lappin said:
The Frieze Art Show is not a pretty picture for working New Yorkers.  If a company is going to use our park, it should be guaranteeing local jobs and fair labor standards.
And Councilmember Mark Weprin agreed.
Frieze NY Art Fair, or any private business that chooses to use public parks, should hire local New York workers and adhere to fair labor standards.
Art world enthusiasts speculate that London based Frieze will become a permanent yearly fixture at Randall’s Island. This year, the festival will run on May 10-13, 2013 and will feature works from more than 1,000 artists from around the world.