By Gabriela Resto-Montero
WEST VILLAGE — The Hudson River Park Trust turned to union busting recently after a group of their carpenters, engineers and horticulturalists voted in favor of joining a labor union.
The 16 Trust employees eligible to join Local 30 voted seven to five with four abstentions in favor of joining, said Kirk Kelly, an organizer for the union at a Community Board 2 waterfront meeting.
But the Hudson River Park Trust, which manages Hudson River Park, appealed the decision to the New York State Labor Relations Board after one of the employees called the vote into question because of the four abstentions, said Connie Fishman, president of the Trust.
"It was not initiated with the Trust, it was initiated by employees," Fishman said of the appeal at the meeting.
Nevertheless, community board members questioned the amount of resources used against the union, including using lawyers to appeal the vote, and noted that other park workers, including construction workers, are already in unions.
"The trust is spending a lot of money to fight the unionization of 16 employees," said Arthur Schwartz, chair of the waterfront committee, at the meeting.
"Something felt wrong about that process," Schwartz said.
For their part, the Hudson River Trust maintains that it has behaved neutrally, and that it appealed the decision only after employee concerns were raised, Fishman said.
"When we're done, that'll be it," she said of the labor relations board decision. "We thought it would be done by now."
Local 30 asked the community board to support the employees' enrollment in the union and to help ensure that the Trust doesn't choose to undergo another round of appeals should the board uphold the employees original vote, Kelly said.
"They have a right to join a union and they have exercised that right and we want the park to recognize it," he said.