New Tavern on the Green Already Faces Labor Strife

Photo: Courtesy of Tavern on the Green

You might file this one under be careful what you wish for: Diner’s Journal reports that Dean Poll, the new licensee of Tavern on the Green, has angered the New York Hotel Trades Council with his proposed new labor contract. It’s said the new contract wouldn’t lower the salaries of current waiters (which currently range from $35,000 to $60,000), but it does call for “significant reductions in many employees’ wages, overtime pay, seniority and vacation time, and changes in pension, benefit and scheduling provisions.” Among other things, Poll wants to lower the wages of newly hired tipped employees to minimum wage and prevent banquet employees from keeping tips. Technically, Poll only has to keep union employees for 90 days after taking over on January 1, but the union’s head, Peter Ward, is insisting they do business together, and he’s playing hardball. He calls the current proposal “an insult, an atrocity, and a slap in the face of not only this union but every New Yorker,” and vows to make Poll come to terms with him “the easy way or the hard way,” referring to the sort of strike that crippled Tavern’s business in 1989: “we will drive his customers away, and when he gets to the point where he has no business and no choice, then he’ll sign a contract with us.”

Labor Showdown May Loom at Tavern on the Green [Diner’s Journal/NYT]