Sotheby's Art Handlers at War with Mayor's Girlfriend Diana Taylor
MANHATTAN — The teamsters are waging war against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's girlfriend Diana Taylor, after she said she'd rather resign from Sotheby's board than see any concessions given to the art handlers who have been locked out since Aug. 1.
The workers and their supporters from Occupy Wall Street have been disrupting Sotheby's auctions and targeting the auction house's board members, including restaurateur Danny Meyer.
Two of the 43 workers approached Taylor, an investment executive and former New York State Superintendent of Banks, at a public meeting Thursday demanding she be held accountable for their lockout and lack of a contract they deem fair.
"Are you going to ignore what's happening to our families in your name?" one worker asked Taylor at the meeting for the Hudson River Park Trust Board, which she chairs, held at the City Planning Commission's office on Reade Street.
Taylor fired back: "I have one thing to say to you. I've had one conversation with [Sotheby's President] Bill Ruprecht about this, and I told him that if he accedes to any of your demands, I will resign from the board. That's all I have to say."
"It sounds like you might have to resign," the worker responded.
"So you don't support working families in New York who have worked hard to make Sotheby's profitable," the man asked as Taylor ignored him and moved the park meeting agenda forward.
After the meeting, the teamsters called on Taylor to resign as chair of the Hudson River Park Trust unless she apologized. If she refused, the union said they wanted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to replace her.
"We are shocked at Taylor's blatant disregard for working New Yorkers and their families," Teamsters Local 814 President Jason Ide, of the art handlers union, said in a statement. "Living with Mike Bloomberg has clearly turned Taylor into an elitist with callous disregard for working families. It's time someone gave her a wake-up call."
The art handlers union said that Sotheby’s wants the workers, who are responsible for the transportation, preparation and display of the pieces, to give up their 401K plan, work a reduced 36-hour week (translating to a 10 percent wage cut) and cap worker’s overtime, among other demands.
Meanwhile, Sotheby's took in more than $315 million last month at its Contemporary Evening Art sale, which was third highest total for the annual event and the highest total since May 2008, before the economic downturn hit, according to Sotheby’s officials.
"We have offered them a very fair contract which includes wage increases in each year of the contract, increased contributions for health insurance premiums and continued participation in Sotheby’s 401K retirement plan," a Sotheby's spokeswoman had told DNAinfo.
"Unfortunately the union leadership insists on asking for increases in wages and benefits that would almost double the cost of their contract."