HUDSON RIVER PARK SPENDS TAXPAYER MONEY to OVERTURN LOCAL 30 ELECTION VICTORY
May 24, 2010
By Neal Tepel
An uninvited guest showed up for the Grand Opening of Hudson River Park’s newest facility at Pier 62 in Chelsea. A 15 foot inflatable rat, courtesy of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30, greeted park-goers attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The rat and informational picket was organized by the Local 30 to protest Hudson River Park Trust President Connie Fishman’s continued use of taxpayer and donor funds for a high priced “union avoidance” law firm in an attempt to overturn the union’s election victory in the Park‘s Maintenance and Operations Department.
In accordance with PERB procedures and an agreement between the Park and Local 30, properly completed ballots received by the April 15th deadline counted at the PERB Brooklyn office on Monday, April 19th, in the presence of union, employee and employer observers, established the Maintenance and Operations Department employees’ intent to be represented by Local 30. A week later, the Trust moved to have all legitimate votes set aside and a new election ordered, claiming that three votes which were not received by the required deadline and disqualified, should have been counted. Park management has told employees its actions were necessary to be “fair” to the three voters that did not follow the agreed upon rules, but did not comment on the fairness of throwing out all the legitimate votes of those who followed the guidelines.
The two attorneys representing Hudson River Park that were observing the election for the employer, Trust Vice President and General Counsel Laurie Silberfeld and Ray Pascucci of Bond, Schoeneck and King, raised no procedural objections while the ballots were counted. A week later, on the last possible day to file an objection, the Park decided that its observers had not been given proper instruction at the time ballots were counted. When statements by the other observers present, Local 30 organizer Kirk Kelly and Maintenance Technician Jeremy Morin a decorated Afghanistan combat veteran refuted these claims, the Park counsel claimed that in retrospect they were also sitting too far away from the ballots to actually see them.
At no point in the Trust’s aggressive attempts to get the election set aside on technicalities did they challenge actual vote tally. LaborPress will continue to monitor the anti-union activities of Hudson River Park and other organizations that attempt to prevent labor unions from organizing workers.