Thursday, April 10, 2014

Another great win for the Teamsters in New York City!

Teamsters and artists during last year's actions
New York City workers scored a victory this week as the Frieze Art Fair agreed to hire Teamsters and IATSE members after protests erupted last year over Frieze's use of non-union labor -- on city-owned property. 

ArtFCity explains what happened:
For a week during the month of May, the British company descends on Randall’s Island and rolls out a tent, under which wealthy dealers and collectors come from the world over to trade money for art. The residents of Randall’s Island don’t reap much monetary benefit from this form of art tourism—and the city’s labor force doesn’t either. Over the years, Frieze exhibition organizers have been accused of hiring event staff and art handlers from as far away as Wisconsin in order to avoid hiring New Yorkers, particularly union workers. All that’s about to change. After months of meetings with local union leaders, Frieze New York has decided to commit to union labor.
Many people worked to bring the London-based art fair together with the unions.  Teamsters Joint Council 16 is grateful to the Randall's Island Park Alliance for getting Frieze and the Teamsters together. They're thankful for the involvement of Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaker of the New York City Council and former chair of the Parks department.

Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda called it 'a great win.' The New York Observer reported:
Frieze has agreed to incorporate partial union labor in the upcoming fair, running May 9 through 12 on Randall’s Island, and to only use union labor for the 2015 edition of the fair. 
“It was a great win,” said George Miranda, president of Teamsters Joint Council 16, who chaired the talks. “We’re satisfied with it. Our goal all along was to make sure it was 100 percent union labor, and that’s what we accomplished.”
New York City Teamsters are also very appreciative of the Arts & Labor group, which stood in solidarity with union members from the get-go. Arts & Labor put out a statement on the agreement:
Our tactics have included a series of direct actions both inside and outside the fair, a letter writing campaign, and the raising of awareness via social media. We also want to acknowledge the vital support of artists Suzanne Lacy and Andrea Bowers, curator Nato Thompson, and many others. We thank everyone who put their reputation on the line to create room for discussion when there was none and who created a platform for workers to speak up. We celebrate this victory as a step in the right direction toward a more just art industry and see it as an effective demonstration of the impact of solidarity networks.
Crain's New York Business reported the news about the deal yesterday with a tremendous headline:
After protests, Teamsters take over an art fair
Art in America also gave a shout-out to Lacy, Bowers and Thompson.