This week marks OccupyCU’s Student Week of Action. Read on for Bwog’s resident #OWS correspondent Jed Bush’s coverage of Day One: “End the Sotheby’s Lockout” rally.
Columbia’s Student Week of Action, orchestrated by OccupyCU, got off to a rather low-key start today, but that didn’t stop the 25 or so protesters planted in front of the Law School at noon from making some noise. They targeted former President of Columbia University, current Chancellor Kent Professor of Law at the Law School, and current Chairman of the Board at Sotheby’s, Michael Sovern, criticizing his poor track record on union rights.
Protesters in front of the Law School
The issue, according to their flier:
“Sotheby’s has kept its Teamsters 814 art handlers locked out… for the past 13 weeks [because they] would not accept Sotheby’s demand that they take a 10% cut in pay and hours, give up their 401(k) plan, and allow their work to be increasingly contracted out to low-paid workers who have no union to protect their rights. The art handlers at Sotheby’s have historically been majority people of color… This attack is not only classist, it’s racist.”
Sharp criticism, especially when you take into account that Sovern is, according to his Columbia bio, a current board member of the NAACP Defense Fund and a founding member of both the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund.
Still, as an issue that was seemingly disconnected from the day-to-day runnings of the university, most students that passed by, undergrads and Law students alike, were ambivalent to the cries of “union busting.” Yet where the protest may have failed to resonate with students, it succeeded admirably with University union workers, as a small contingent stood in solidarity with Teamsters 814 in front of the Law School. Maida Rosenstein, President of UAW Local 2110, the union responsible for representing Columbia’s clerical workers, was present and protested with the students on 116th. (more…)