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Brooklyn State Sen. Julia Salazar crashes meeting to show support for art workers trying to unionize with Teamsters

2019-09-26

Freshman state Sen. Julia Salazar teamed up with the Teamsters this week.

The Brooklyn Dem crashed an in-house meeting Wednesday called by the head of fine art moving company UOVO to try and talk employees out of joining a union, according to the president of Teamsters Local 814.

Queens-based UOVO, whose employees help deliver priceless works of art to museums like the Met and Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan, refused to recognize Local 814 when informed its staffers had signed up, workers said.

Instead, the company called a meeting Wednesday and said that “no companies match 401K contributions anymore,” according to staffers present.

But the workers got some socialist support in the form of Salazar, who crashed the meeting with Local 814 President Jason Ide to demand the company stop union-busting.

Salazar later posed for pics outside UOVO’s building with workers — throwing up her right fist in a power salute.

“A company like UOVO, that counts on doing business with city-funded, pro-union institutions like the Met, and that has asked the city’s tax-payers to help subsidize their expansion into my district, should be expected to treat their workers with respect,” Salazar said in a statement about her meeting-busting.

“They should recognize their union immediately. If they continue to hold captive audience meetings and engage in anti-union tactics, then I think it’s our obligation as city and state officials to reexamine all of their dealings with public institutions and public funding.”

UOVO is planning to open a fourth warehouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn, this fall in Salazar’s district with nearly $17 million in funding from New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Teamsters Local 814 President Jason Ide said workers will even reach out to the company’s clients if UOVO doesn’t stop anti-union activity.

UOVO didn’t address allegations they pressured employees when reached for comment by the Daily News.

“UOVO is committed to our team and supports their rights. As industry leaders, we are proud of the unparalleled skill level of our art handlers, and the work they perform with the world’s most recognized museums, collectors and institutions,” UOVO spokeswoman Anne Maso said.We value our work culture and the direct communication with our colleagues across departments. Ultimately, any decision to introduce third-party representation rests with the affected team members and we will respect their choices.”

UOVO workers said they’re looking for affordable family-health care, better safety protections and retirement plan.

“We’ve been doing this for too long,” said UOVO truck driver and art handler Ricky Santiago, who’s worked with the company for four years. “I’ve coughed up almost $3,000 to take my daughters to the ER. If you get sick, you are ultimately screwed, and in this industry it’s been that way for too long. That’s why we built a union here. It’s for our all of our futures and for our families’ futures.”