NEW YORK, NY – New York Presbyterian Hospital is under fire for taking furniture deliveries from Waldner’s Business Environments amidst a union lockout and terminations of long-time workers. Waldner’s refused to bargain a new contract with Teamsters Local 814 for several months, which the Teamsters call illegal. Last week, the company locked out the over 40 union workers and replaced them with cheaper subcontractors. New York Presbyterian is Waldner’s largest client.
“I’ve delivered furniture to New York Presbyterian for nine years. It hurts to see the hospital do nothing while Waldner’s fires me and my coworkers to replace us with cheaper subcontractors,” said Jim Awgul, a 31-year Waldner’s worker. “If New York Presbyterian really cares about the community, they won’t do business with a company that is violating our rights.”
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 covering drivers, helpers, and warehouse workers expired on June 30th, although many of its provisions should remain in effect, as required by federal labor law.
Elected officials joined Waldner’s workers in calling on New York Presbyterian to take action.
“In New York City, we value companies that treat workers with respect. Waldner’s is showing that it does not share those values,” said City Council Member Mark Levine. “New York Presbyterian should drop Waldner’s and use an office furniture company that rewards its long term employees instead of replacing them.”
Teamsters Local 814 is contacting all Waldner’s clients to ask them to cease business with the company. Other clients include CUNY, SUNY, Columbia University, New York Life, Macy’s, the MTA, Estee Lauder, and Spotify.
The union is also taking legal action at the National Labor Relations Board. It is illegal under federal labor law for a company to refuse to bargain a contract with the union representing its workers.
“You can’t just declare your company to be non-union, after 50 years of good labor relations,” said Jason Ide, President of Teamsters Local 814. “Waldner’s workers played by the rules, they worked hard, and now they are getting a pink slip because Waldner’s wants someone cheaper to do the job. We aren’t going to stand by while Waldner’s breaks the law and abuses these workers.”
Last week, New York Presbyterian emailed its thousands of employees, attempting to distance itself from the labor dispute. The Teamsters weren’t buying it.
“New York Presbyterian is Waldner’s biggest client and can make a difference,” said Ide. “The hospital should stop doing business with this disreputable company.”
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.