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Vol. 75/No. 37      October 17, 2011

Boathouse Restaurant
strikers in NY win big victory
(front page)
NEW YORK—“We won respect, benefits and better pay,” is how Carlos Velez, a butcher at the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park, summed up the gains for workers here September 22 after a victorious 44-day strike. “We have some power now, the bosses treat us in a different way,” he told the Militant.

Velez is one of the more than 60 cooks, waiters, banquet servers, dishwashers, and other staff who walked off the job and had been picketing daily outside the Boathouse Restaurant. They were joined by dozens of workers who had been fired leading up to the strike, they say, for supporting an effort to join the Hotel Trades Council Local 6.

“The Boathouse Restaurant workers won a four-year union contract with substantial wage and other gains,” John Turchiano, editor of Hotel Voice, the Hotel Trades Council Local 6 online magazine, told the Militant. The lowest wage has risen from $7.50 an hour to $13.50, with 5 percent increases in each of the following three years, said Turchiano. Most workers received at least a 40 percent raise, with some as high as 90 percent.

I’ve heard that my pay will go up from $12.50 to $20 an hour,” Edgar Ventura, who did not walk out with his fellow workers, told the Militant outside the restaurant September 25, a day before strikers returned to work.

Nearly 40 workers who had been fired for supporting the union are to be reinstated, according to Turchiano. The new union contract also includes “full family medical and dental benefits, seniority and other union rights,” he said.

The owners of the normally busy eating place—at the edge of a lake in Central Park—experienced a dramatic fall off in business because of the boisterous picket lines and appeals for solidarity. On a recent Saturday afternoon, not a single patron was seated in the outdoor dining and lounge areas of the restaurant.

Concerned that growing support for the strike from thousands of people walking through the park was beginning to tarnish the city’s tourist image, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office got directly involved. The announcement to the press that the owner, Dean Poll, had agreed to recognize the union and sign a contract was made by Deputy Mayor Robert Steel.

Not all of the workers at the restaurant joined the fight for the union. According to several strikers, several dozen restaurant employees did not walk out and worked alongside temporary replacement workers. “There were a lot of scabs who worked during the strike, but we fought for their rights, too,” said Velez. “Now they realize it was worth it. They get the same benefits we do.”
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Wash. rally backs longshore workers’ union battle
On the Picket Line  
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