Central Park Boathouse Workers Secretly Tape Boss' Conversations

Restaurant "has repeatedly violated federal labor laws," says union prez

By Sara Dover
|  Friday, Jan 28, 2011  |  Updated 4:30 PM EDT
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Central Park Boathouse Workers Secretly Tape Boss' Conversations

Getty Images/Panoramic Images

Boat on a lake, Central Park, Manhattan, New York City, New York State, USA

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Employees of the restaurant that overlooks the iconic Central Park Lake are rocking the boat with evidence that they were allegedly mistreated.

Waiters and dishwashers of the Boathouse Restaurant have captured hundreds of workplace conversations via tape recorder that allegedly pit employers for threatening them not to vote for or organize unions, the New York Daily News reported.

"These tapes and transcripts provide irrefutable proof that the Boathouse Restaurant  has repeatedly violated federal labor laws," Peter Ward, president of Local 6 of the hotel and restaurant workers union, told the Daily News.

Some of those conversations allegedly include restaurant owner Dean Poll  saying that the Boathouse "will go out of business" if employees vote for a union.

Poll dismissed 16 workers on Tuesday- all of who support the union campaign. Poll denied that the dismissal had anything to do with union support.

"This is the slow season," Poll said. "Those people weren't full-time employees anyway. I only need 14 full-time banquet waiters this time of year. If I need workers for a party, it's much easier to hire by outsourcing."

Average wages for the boathouse  are $10 and hour, workers told the Daily News, and many kitchen workers are paid $7.60.

"They treat us like animals in that place," said banquet waiter Alejandra Betancourt. "Many times, we work double shifts from 9 am to 1 am, but they don't even give us decent meals to eat or proper work breaks, or pay us all our overtime.

Poll said the allegations are "absolutely untrue" and that the "majority of the workers don't want a union."

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