NEW YORK, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sotheby's Auction House (NYSE: BID) locked out more than 40 experienced art handlers Friday, putting at risk highly valuable artwork and other rare collections slated to be auctioned at upcoming events in New York. The surprise management tactic, which threatens to spark contentious protests in New York and at Sotheby locations around the world, came amid negotiations for a new labor agreement between Sotheby's and Teamsters Local 814, which represents the art handlers.
"As a former art handler, I know the skills required to properly care for a client's valuable consignment in a high-volume environment," said Jason Ide, President of Teamsters Local 814. "Safely unframing, packing, installing, storing and transporting client property is not work I would entrust to inexperienced and poorly trained temporary workers."
"Risk management is clearly not a priority for Sotheby's executives or board of directors," said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents more than 110,000 Teamster members in the New York City metropolitan area. "To address investor concerns about compensation and board oversight, Sotheby's nominated James Murdoch last year, a director with arguably no experience providing critical, independent oversight. Now mired in a global scandal and investigation, Murdoch cannot possibly focus on protecting Sotheby shareholders."
Sotheby's investors sent a strong message of dissatisfaction in 2010 regarding the company's excessive executive compensation practices by withholding more than 40 percent support for the directors who served on the board's compensation committee. That same year, the board nominated its newest independent director—James Murdoch, the embattled BSkyB chairman and News Corp. executive and director currently under investigation in a salacious scandal involving illegal phone hacking. Murdoch was appointed to Sotheby's Compensation and Nominating & Corporate Governance committees.