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Art handlers protesting at Sotheby's
Art handlers protesting at Sotheby's


May 1, 2012

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It’s May Day, and that means a day of protest for many activist-minded artists. To commemorate the original Labor Day, a group of artists and writers have signed a petition calling on Sotheby’s to stop the lockout of 43 unionized art handlers that has been in effect since July of last year.

“The message from Sotheby’s is clear,” reads the petition, written by blogger Paddy Johnson and signed by AA Bronson, Shepard Fairey, Deborah Kass, Marilyn Minter, William Powhida, Haim Steinbach, Hrag Vartanian, the collective W.A.G.E and hundreds of others, “art handlers do not deserve the same benefits as the rest of their staff. If art handlers expect the privileges of their betters, like health insurance or collective bargaining rights, it is acceptable to make them suffer.”

The group is encouraging collectors to buy from other auction houses, artists to tell Sotheby’s they don’t want them selling their work and everyone to sign the petition. The letter points out that Sotheby’s saw its highest profits ever last year, and the union contract totals $3.2 million, a modest sum by comparison.

In other May Day news, yesterday the NYPD raided the home of performance artist Georgia Sagri, a participant in the current Whitney Biennial and organizer of last year’s much maligned Occupy Artists Space protest, Gawker reports. She was out holding a press conference in Zuccotti Park when the police arrived at her home, and, after a roommate notified her, she said she hasn’t returned to the house.

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