Stringer Calls On City to Drop Boathouse Contract–UPDATE

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer sent a letter this morning to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe calling on the city to drop the operator of the famed Central Park boathouse for what he says are “a host of continued labor violations, allegations, and complaints.”

“The Department of Parks and Recreation should terminate the contract with Dean Poll and put an end to the continued mistreatment of workers,” Stringer wrote, noting that Boathouse workers have filed complaints with the National Labor Relationship Board alleging that Dean Poll, who operates the restaurant, threatened to fire employees to stop them from unionizing, that he cheated workers out of overtime and confiscated their gratuities. Stringer also notes that 2007 audit by the City Comptroller found that the Central Park Boathouse owed the city hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of misreported revenue.

“The City simply should not be doing business with an operator which has exhibited such abundant problems with legal compliance and mistreatment of workers,” Stringer writes. Under Dean Poll’s contract, the Parks Department has the right to demand that he comply with all federal, state and local laws and has the power to terminate his contract. I urge you to exercise that power and end this contract immediately.”

Controversy over Poll has been swirling for months now, after employees at the Boathouse secretly taped their bosses threatening to retaliate against them if they unionize.

Last April, Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined Stringer and members of the City Council to protest what they said was the retaliatory firing of workers trying to unionize.

UPDATE: David Weissman, the attorney for the Boathouse, passed along the following statement:

It is unfortunate that Borough President Stringer has come to a conclusion about unsubstantiated allegations before even the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) renders a decision, or checking the facts out for himself, despite invitation by Boathouse management to do so. The numerous false and misleading allegations detracts from the real issue of allowing the Boathouse workers the right to participate in a secret ballot election and determining for themselves if they want union representation.


Anyone can file a charge with the NLRB. All of these “complaints” and “charges” are a continued attempt by the union to retaliate against Boathouse management for failed negotiations at Tavern on the Green. Sadly the Borough President, who is a large recipient of Local 6 and Hotel Trades Council support, is doing the union’s bidding and not trying to investigate the validity of the charges.


To date there have been no findings of wrongdoing on the part of Dean Poll or the Boathouse by the NLRB or any other governmental agency.


The Central Park Boathouse is a New York City icon that has long been a great place to work, a place where workers are treated with respect and dignity. Since taking over operations at the Boathouse Dean Poll has more than doubled the yearly revenue generated for the City of New York at that location.


Full Stringer letter below:
Letter to Commissioner Benepe 6 6 2011

Stringer Calls On City to Drop Boathouse Contract–UPDATE