Workers Demand Schubert Theatres, Sotheby's 'Stop the Discrimination'
NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Professional art handlers and their supporters protested outside opening night of the new Broadway play "The Mountaintop" at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre last night. The protesters called on the Schubert Organization, which owns the Jacobs Theatre, and its board to end a three-month-long lockout at Sotheby's Auction House. Schubert Organization board member Michael Sovern is Chairman of the Board of Directors at Sotheby's [NYSE:BID].
Sotheby's locked out its staff of 43 art handlers, most of who are minorities. The workers have been without paychecks since July. "The Mountaintop" is a play that celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his 1968 speech supporting African-American workers in Memphis who fought to improve their jobs and their lives.
The protesters distributed handbills that read , " Michael Sovern: Stop the Discrimination" and "America cannot become a better nation when a company like Sotheby's sends workers into poverty and unemployment lines.""It's unconscionable for Sotheby's and Michael Sovern, who are part of the top 1 percent in this country, to throw hard-working African-American and Latino workers out on the street without paychecks," said Jason Ide, President of Local 814, which represents the art handlers at Sotheby's. Despite making more than $774 million in revenue last year, Sotheby's continues to insist on the right to eliminate the workers' retirement plan, and to permanently replace skilled art handlers with inexperienced, outsourced workers. "The Sotheby's economy is destroying the lives of too many Americans," said Sim Jones, a 42-year art-handler and member of Local 814. "Wealthy New York institutions like the Schubert and Sotheby's are thriving during this recession, while most of us are struggling. We deserve decent jobs that allow us to keep food on the table for our families." Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information.