Workers at the historic Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park have voted to go on strike, and they have called on the Bloomberg administration to force the restaurant’s operator to the negotiating table.
“We wanted to join a union to have a voice at the Boathouse. Dean Poll responded by firing dozens of union supporters for nothing more than exercising their legally protected rights,” said Michelle Gomez, a worker there who said she was fired for trying to form a union. “He has created a poisoned environment where workers are harassed, intimidated, and made to feel powerless, all while the Parks Department looks the other way. Today we say enough is enough.”
Dean Poll operates the Boathouse with an agreement with the city’s Parks Department, and the Hotel Trades Council has called on the administration to break the contract, saying that Poll stole tips, retaliated against workers who wanted to unionize and abused employees. The whole slew of 2013 candidates–Christine Quinn, Scott Stringer, John Liu and Bill de Blasio–have echoed the call.
Update: David Weissman, the attorney for the Central Park Boathouse, dismissed as a vindictive stunt to get back at Poll for the closing of Tavern on the Green
The workers who walked out today represent a small percentage of the approximately 140 men and women who are employed at the Central Park Boathouse. While The Boathouse management respects the employees who came to work and walked off the job, this walkout is yet another vindictive tactic by Hotel Trades Council President Peter Ward, who wrongly blames Dean Poll for the fact that Tavern on the Green remains closed. In truth, it was Ward who was unwilling to agree on a contract–thus costing 400 Tavern employees their jobs. If Ward is really concerned about the Boathouse employees, he should support the workers’ right to have the NLRB conduct a secret ballot election. Instead, the Hotel Trades Council organizes one publicity stunt after another. Patrons of the Boathouse can rest assured that business will go on as usual and that they will be served by the dedicated staff who choose not to engage in a walkout.