Via e-flux: Sotheby’s: offer your art handlers a fair contract

Don’t be jerks, Sotheby’s. Do the right thing.

Art handlers lift things that are heavier than you want to lift, handle things that you’re too nervous to handle yourself, and pack and unpack things that you’re not skilled to handle. If you want workers to handle art and antiques with care, treat your workers with dignity.

Sign the petition at

For the past eight months, Sotheby’s has locked its 43 unionized art handlers out of work. Rather than negotiating a fair contract with its employees, the company has issued a set of demands: the gutting of the art handlers’ union, the elimination of health insurance and other benefits, and the replacement of full-time skilled workers with temporary unskilled laborers.

Sotheby’s has decided that the handling of priceless artworks is an easy job; that low-paid temporary workers with little training or incentive can manage the constant stream of artifacts into and out of the world’s largest auction house. The 43 locked-out workers who have made art handling their career know this is not true.

There have been no negotiations. Read on.


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