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Deal Ends Central Park Boathouse Strike

By Leslie Albrecht | September 23, 2011 7:54am

CENTRAL PARK — Workers at Central Park's Loeb Boathouse ended a 44-day strike after they struck a deal with management that recognizes their union and gives them a pay raise and health benefits.

Employees at the tourist magnet restaurant were expected to ratify the four-year contract at a meeting on Thursday, according to a statement from the mayor's office.

"This agreement is good for our staff, and will allow us to grow and prosper in the years ahead,” said Boathouse operator Dean Poll in a statement released by the mayor's office.

The agreement, brokered by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, ends a bitter dispute between Poll, who runs the Boathouse under a city contract, and the New York Hotel Trades Council.

Workers said Boathouse management subjected them to illegal firings, intimidation and sexual harassment in retaliation for attempting to form a union. In April, employees rallied behind the Boathouse, slamming Poll for running a "sweatshop" in Central Park.

Union organizers claimed that 70 percent of the Boathouse staff wanted to form a union.

In August, more than 60 waiters, busboys and other workers went on strike, vowing to picket outside the tourist attraction and city landmark until they were allowed to form a union.

Poll won a city contract in 2009 to operate the iconic Tavern on the Green. But he failed to reach an agreement with the Hotel Trades Council, which represented Tavern workers, and the popular Central Park restaurant subsequently closed.