Teamsters Win Jobs Fight at Furniture Dealer
Waldner’s abandons its use of substandard furniture delivery companies
Teamsters Local 814 announced an agreement with Waldner’s Business Environments today that brings to an end to the unfair labor practice dispute that spread across New York City. Under the agreement, Waldner’s has committed in writing to use companies that pay their workers fair wages and benefits, and Waldner’s has secured jobs for former employees at those delivery companies. Local 814 members approved the agreement in a vote today.
“We fought for what was right, and we won a fair settlement,” said Kevin Roach, a 33-year Waldner’s worker and Teamsters Local 814 shop steward. “When workers fight back, and have the community behind us, we can get what we deserve. Thank you to all of the unions, elected officials, and Waldner’s customers who stood with us. In the end, with your help, Waldner’s did the right thing.”
Under the agreement, workers will also receive significant severance, in many cases equaling thirty weeks’ pay. Because many former employees have secured jobs with Local 814 companies, they will continue to receive the same strong pension and health benefits package they had at Waldner’s.
“This agreement should put all moving companies and all Teamster employers on notice that we won’t stand by while you try to bust our union. We will fight back, we will go to your customers, and we will win,” said Jason Ide, President of Teamsters Local 814. “New York is a union town.”
Waldner’s is one of the largest office furniture companies in the New York City area and has been unionized for over 50 years. For several months, Waldner’s refused to bargain a new contract with Teamsters Local 814, before locking out union workers on July 5th and replacing them with subcontractors, triggering the union protests.
Teamsters Local 814 and Waldner’s workers developed a strategic campaign to bring the company to the table. That campaign included a focus on Waldner’s deliveries to New York Presbyterian Hospital, with repeated rallies outside of the facility. They also received the support of the New York State Nurses Association and 1199 SEIU. The impact of this publicity on the hospital was pivotal to reopening negotiations.
The union also contacted Waldner’s other customers for their support. The New York City Economic Development Corporation, upon learning of the labor dispute, ceased business with Waldner’s pending an investigation.
Waldner’s workers won the support of labor and progressive organizations across New York and across the country. New York Presbyterian Hospital received hundreds of emails and messages on social media from activists affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Working Families Party, Democratic Socialists of America, Long Island Federation of Labor, and the New York City Central Labor Council.
The union also brought its case to the National Labor Relations Board, which had notified Waldner’s that it was preparing to issue an official complaint against the company.
“This isn’t just a win for Waldner’s workers, it’s a win for all of us,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, whose affiliates include 26 Teamsters locals across downstate New York, including Local 814. “Many companies are emboldened since the election to try to take more and more from their workers. But this is also an age of resistance and workers are showing who really has the power when we get organized.”
“When workers stand together with a collective voice, they win,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “I commend Teamsters Local 814 for standing together to get members’ jobs back, after being unjustly fired with no warning. This victory sends a clear message that union busting, and attempts to take away workers’ hard-earned wages and benefits cannot and will not be tolerated.”
“When working families stand together, we win,” says Bill Lipton, New York State Director of the Working Families Party. “This agreement is going to protect good, family-sustaining jobs on Long Island. It will also send a message to other wealthy corporations who think they can increase their profit margin by taking it out of the hides of hard working Americans: don’t even try it. We’re proud to stand with the members of Teamsters Local 814, their families, and their communities.”
“New York Presbyterian nurses were proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Teamsters in their fight for justice at Waldner’s,” said Jill Furillo, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association. “The Teamsters have always been there for us, and we will always be there for them.”
John R. Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, called the settlement of the dispute between Teamsters Local 814 and Waldner’s Business Environments a great victory for the long-term, loyal employees of the company, for their families, and the union.
“Without the persistence of the union leadership and members over many months, who refused to allow the company to undermine the standards of their industry, this settlement would not be possible. We thank the elected and community leaders who pitched in to make this victory possible,” Durso said.