Sotheby’s and the unionized art handlers who move its clients’ prized Warhols and de Koonings ratified an agreement today on a three-year deal that brings a 10-month lockout of the workers to a close, Crain’s reports. The deal increases wages one percent each year, raises the starting salary to $18.50 an hour and maintains benefits for the 42 workers who are members of Teamsters Local 814. While Sotheby’s was seeking to replace some of the union workers with temporary nonunion art handlers, this deal protects those positions as union jobs.
The Teamsters have scored a powerful ally in their battle with Sotheby’s, which locked out its union art handlers last fall. A few weeks ago, Robert F, Kennedy, Jr., an environmental attorney, opted to move a charity auction for his nonprofit organization, Waterkeeper Alliance, from Sotheby’s New York “out of respect for the striking Teamsters.” (Just to be clear–they’re not, actually, striking, which would imply that they have voluntarily left their jobs; they are protesting the lockout.)
With Impressionist and modern art auctions beginning in New York next week, Sotheby’s is taking precautions to avoid the disruptions that Occupy Wall Street protesters have caused at recent events.