After 50 Years As a Union Company, Waldner’s Kicks Workers to the Curb
Alex Moore/Joint Council 16Email: [email protected] Phone: (718) 289-0204
Julian Tysh/Teamsters Local 814Email: [email protected] Phone: (917) 399-1461
NEW YORK, NY – On July 5, Waldner’s Business Environments locked out its union workers. 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, and now has locked out union workers and replaced them with subcontractors.
“I’ve worked at Waldner’s my whole life and helped this company succeed, but this is the thanks I get,” said Kevin Roach, a 33-year Waldner’s worker and Teamsters Local 814 shop steward. “My family depends on this job. My son has Down Syndrome and depends on my union health insurance. I am not going to give up everything just so Waldner’s wealthy owners can add a few percentage points to their profits.”
Waldner’s workers are walking the picket line today in front of New York Presbyterian Hospital, the furniture company’s largest client. As scab replacements move in furniture, the Teamsters and their supporters are calling on New York Presbyterian and other clients to cut Waldner’s.
“Waldner’s workers are the latest victims of corporate greed,” said Jason Ide, President of Teamsters Local 814. “It used to be that if you showed up on time, worked hard, and supported your company, then you could expect fair treatment in return. Waldner’s workers did everything right and the company is screwing them anyway.”
Despite years of profitability and a good working relationship with Teamsters Local 814, management at the furniture company refused to bargain a new contract covering all of their drivers, helpers and warehouse workers. The company even refused to make a counter offer. The last union contract expired on June 30th and Waldner’s has now locked out the workers.
“This is union busting, plain and simple,” said Ide.
The union maintains that the company’s actions are illegal and is pursuing charges at the National Labor Relations Board to force the company to negotiate with its workforce and drop the union-busting effort.
For weeks, Waldner’s workers, union leaders, and elected officials urged the company to bargain a new contract. Elected officials are now joining the call for New York Presbyterian and other clients to cut ties to Waldner’s.
"Waldner's shouldn't be locking out hard-working employees, some of which have been with the company for 30 years," said Council Member Ben Kallos, whose district includes several New York Presbyterian facilities. "This lockout of warehousemen, drivers, and movers is wrong. Any institution currently working with Waldner's should insist they end the lockout and negotiate in good faith with the employees that have helped make Waldner's profitable for years."
Teamsters Local 814 is committed to bargaining a fair contract for both sides and has repeatedly expressed that they would be willing 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.