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NYC hospital workers join protest against Waldner’s, union says

Waldner's Business Environments has been the target of

Waldner's Business Environments has been the target of unions that accuse the company of locking out workers. Credit: Google Maps

Nurses and other health care workers joined a protest against Waldner’s Business Environments Tuesday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in upper Manhattan, according to the union for Waldner’s workers.

The hospital is a client of Waldner’s, a Farmingdale-based office furniture firm.

Waldner’s closed its in-house delivery and installation business on July 5, and is using subcontractors for that work. Local 814, which represents the workers laid off in the closing, described the action as a “lockout” of the employees.

“NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital executives should understand that it won’t be business as usual as long as they do business with Waldner’s,” Jason Ide, president of Local 814, said in a statement Tuesday. “We aren’t going away.”

Waldner’s did not respond to a request for comment.

During the past two weeks, union construction workers stopped two shipments of Waldner’s furniture from being delivered to a different NewYork-Presbyterian site on the Upper East Side, the union said.

Waldner’s and the union dispute the number of workers laid off. Waldner’s said in a statement last week that 20 full- and part-time workers were let go. Local 814 counts 40 when including additional part-time employees.

The layoffs followed the June 30 expiration of Waldner’s contract with Local 814. The union said the company refused to bargain, and sent a letter in April saying it would close its distribution operations and not renew the contract.

Waldner’s, a third-generation family business founded in 1939, doesn’t call the layoffs a lockout.

“Waldner’s contract [with the union] was expired and not renewed, which was a company business decision,” the company said in the statement last week.

The company, whose clients include the State University of New York, Macy’s and Spotify, maintains that it did not replace the workers, but that it “simply decided to close our distribution portion of our business,” and contract the work “to other union companies.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines a lockout as “a temporary withholding or denial of employment during a labor dispute in order to enforce terms of employment upon a group of employees,” and is “initiated by the management of an establishment.”

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