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UOVO workers. Photo: Teamsters.
UOVO workers. Photo: Teamsters.

UOVO Workers Vote in Favor of Forming Union

Employees of UOVO, a New York–based firm that provides transport and storage services for arts institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rubin Museum, gathered this week at the company’s Queens location to announce their intent to organize a union with Teamsters Local 814, New York’s union for professional movers. They are demanding negotiation for contracts that offer more affordable healthcare and a robust retirement plan.

Brooklyn state senator Julia Salazar and Local 814 president Jason Ide were present as employees noted that management had refused to recognize the union, and attempted to dissuade them from unionizing by saying employees and company owners were “a family and all grievances could be best resolved without a legally binding union contract.”

Salazar represents Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, where the company plans to open a fourth warehouse with financial assistance from the city. She said: “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 taxpayers to help subsidize their expansion into my district, should be expected to treat their workers with respect. They should recognize their union immediately. If they continue to hold captive audience meetings and engage in anti-union tactics, it’s our obligation as city and state officials to reexamine all of their dealings with public institutions and public funding.”

Ide said: “Something is happening in the art world now. Workers are realizing their value and realizing that they have the power to change their situation for the better. That’s why so many art workers are organizing and unionizing.”

The union president added that if UOVO fails to recognize the union and cease union-busting activity, workers and the union will reach out to the company’s clientele.