Furniture Deliveries Stopped at New York Presbyterian Hospital as Unions Protest “Cheap” Contractor Jobs
NY Presbyterian Hospital employees rallied with workers fired by Waldner’s Business Environments, as union construction workers turn away Waldner’s deliveries at hospital site
Teamsters Local 814 launches DropWaldners.com website to educate Waldner’s customers
Nurses, nurse aides, and other healthcare workers from New York Presbyterian Hospital joined fired Teamsters today outside the hospital. Workers are protesting New York Presbyterians’ decision to take furniture deliveries from Waldner’s Business Environments amidst a union lockout and terminations of Waldner’s long-time workers. New York Presbyterian is Waldner’s largest client.
“I don’t know how New York Presbyterian Hospital can stand by while quality health coverage is taken away from the workers delivering its furniture,” said Kevin Roach, a 33-year Waldner’s worker and Teamsters Local 814 shop steward. “My son has Down Syndrome and a compromised immune system. My family desperately needs the health care that Waldner’s took away. We need New York Presbyterian’s help, but they are saying it’s not their problem.”
Since the lockout began, two separate Waldner’s deliveries by subcontractors were turned back by construction workers at a New York Presbyterian construction project on the Upper East Side.
“New York Presbyterian Hospital executives should understand that it won’t be business as usual as long as they do business with Waldner’s,” said Jason Ide, President of Teamsters Local 814. “We aren’t going away. This attack on unions is unprecedented in the furniture industry and if Presbyterian continues to buy from Waldner’s, they are complicit.”
“The Waldner’s workers have the support of every Teamster in New York,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents 120,000 Teamsters across the New York City region. “Companies are not allowed to just declare themselves non-union after decades of good labor relations. New York Presbyterian Hospital and other Waldner’s clients should cease doing business with this company immediately.”
Teamsters Local 814 has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board based on Waldner’s unlawful refusal over a period of several months to bargain for a new contract. On July 5th, the company locked out the over 40 union drivers, helpers, and warehouse workers and replaced them with cheaper subcontractors.
The Waldner’s workers have received support from across the labor movement. Last week, Jill Furillo, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association, wrote a letter to New York Presbyterian Hospital, urging the hospital to cut ties with Waldner’s. NYSNA represents several thousand nurses at NYP.
“This sort of rapacious and socially irresponsible corporate behavior is the root cause of the stagnation of worker incomes, the continuing decline of local economies, and ever widening income inequality,” Furillo wrote. “Waldner’s actions are unconscionable and deplorable, but they are also inimical to the values and socially responsible culture of NewYork-Presbyterian.”
“After over 50 years as a responsible employer, it is unconscionable that Waldner’s Business Environments would resort to union busting as a way to cut its own business costs,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “This lock-out and the subsequent firings bring to light Waldner’s lack of respect for working New Yorkers and their families, and New York City labor is united behind Teamsters 814 in its call for New York Presbyterian Hospital to cut ties with this employer.”
Local 814 also launched a new website, DropWaldners.com, to inform Waldner’s clients of the company’s abuse of its workers. The website includes campaign news, a list of responsible office furniture dealers, content for supporters to post on social media, and a link for customers to join the boycott.
“This new website exposes the truth about Waldner’s. I hope every customer visits and learns who they are really doing business with,” said Ide.
Waldner’s is one of the largest office furniture companies in the New York City area and has been unionized for over 50 years. The last union contract expired on June 30th, although many of its provisions should remain in effect, as required by federal labor law. Waldner’s actions have caused elected officials to speak out.
“My community needs New York Presbyterian to support good jobs with quality wages and benefits,” said New York State Senator Marisol Alcantara, whose district includes Presbyterian Hospital. “The hospital cannot turn a blind eye to the abuses perpetrated by Waldner’s. These working families deserve justice and we call on New York Presbyterian to drop Waldner’s. As a former NYSNA organizer, I understand how the labor of workers can be taken for granted by hospital management. I hope that Waldner’s reconsiders its decision to leave its union roots and, if they do not, I hope that New York Presbyterian will cut their contract with this business.”
Teamsters Local 814 is contacting all Waldner’s clients to ask them to cease business with the company so long as it continues the lockout and refuses to bargaining with the union. Waldner’s additional clients include CUNY, SUNY, Columbia University, New York Life, Macy’s, the MTA, Estee Lauder, and Spotify.
Teamsters Local 814 is committed to bargaining a fair contract for both sides and has repeatedly expressed its willingness to consider any issues Waldner’s management would bring to the table. Until that time, the union will take its case directly to Waldner’s clients, in person if necessary.