MANHATTAN — Sotheby’s 42 art handlers will be return to work after a 10-month lockout punctuated by rowdy protests outside — and inside — the famed Upper East Side auction house as the Occupy Wall Street movement picked up the union’s cause.
The art handlers union voted Thursday to approve a three-year deal that will raise their wages 1 percent each year, bumping their starting salary up to $18.50 an hour, and maintains workers benefits, Teamsters Local 814 President Jason Ide told Crain’s New York Business.
Sotheby’s had hired temporary workers last August when the art handlers’ contract expired in July. Union officials said the elite institution had wanted to replace some of their art handlers with the temporary non-union workers, but the new deal will protect those jobs.
After the Occupy Wall Street movement joined the art handlers, the groups mounted high profile protests, sometimes disrupting auctions or screaming about board members such as Danny Meyer at his restaurants or Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, Diana Taylor, at a meeting.
Ide told Crain’s that the negotiations reached a turning point when Sotheby’s switched law firms and hired Bob Batterman, the attorney who represented the National Football League during its lockout last year.
Batterman told Crain’s that Sotheby’s never proposed replacing the union workers with part-timers.
“Sotheby’s is pleased that it has reached a new collective bargaining agreement with Local 814 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters,” a spokeswoman for the auction house said, declining to comment further.