A city furniture store with a 50-year history as a Teamsters shop fired nearly 40 workers Wednesday — wiping out its unionized workforce, the Daily News has learned.
The 20 full-time and roughly 20 part-time workers at Waldner’s Business Environments returned to work after the Fourth of July holiday to find pink slips waiting for them, according to their union, Teamsters Local 814.
A spokeswoman for Waldner’s — an office furniture supply store — didn’t immediately return calls for comment.
But Local 814 said the firings were the equivalent of an illegal lockout and filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board to get the workers reinstated.
The union said it had been trying to negotiate a new contract for its members — Waldner’s drivers, warehouse staff and more — for months.
The current contract between Local 814 and Waldner’s expired on June 30, according to the Teamsters.
Waldner’s fired its union staffers on their first day back to work after their old contract deal ran out.
“I’ve worked at Waldner’s my whole life and helped this company succeed, and this is the thanks I get,” said Kevin Roach, a 33-year Waldner's worker and Teamsters Local 814 shop steward.
“My family depends on this job. My son has Down Syndrome and depends on my union health insurance. I am not going to give up everything just so Waldner's wealthy owners can add a few percentage points to their profits,” he said.
The office furniture company already had subcontractors on site to take over for the fired Teamsters, the workers said.
Local 814 arranged a protest picket line outside of New York Presbyterian Hospital Wednesday.
The hospital is one of Waldner’s biggest clients, Local 814 said.
Jason Ide, president of Teamsters Local 814, said the union had always enjoyed a good relationship with Waldner’s, which was a profitable company.
But the business leadership declined to enter into any kind of negotiations with the union as the clock ran out on the contract that expired June 30, he said.
"This is union busting, plain and simple," said Ide.
The Teamsters immediately began shoring up support for the fired workers Wednesday, reaching out to public officials and also Waldner’s clients.
City Councilman Ben Kallos, whose district includes many New York Presbyterian facilities, said Waldner’s was “wrong” to fire its union employees.
"Waldner's shouldn't be locking out hard-working employees, some of which have been with the company for 30 years," Kallos said.
“Any institution currently working with Waldner's should insist they end the lockout and negotiate in good faith,” he added.