Central Park Boathouse Workers Spill About $8 Tap Water And More

Central Park boathouse drinking water scandalIt's one of Manhattan's most idyllic locales, but it's become the flashpoint for a round of labor showdowns. The Central Park Boathouse overlooks the famed Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and has long been a popular site for weddings and other events.

Earlier this month, 65 boathouse workers walked off the job in protest over alleged workplace-intimidation tactics.

The workers say they were being targeted for supporting the union, according to a report by the Gothamist website.

The strikers also charge that the restaurant stole their gratuities. Several also say that they were sexually harassed by management.

The strikers have not gone gently into the fight. Among the tactics they have embraced in their bid to shame Boathouse operator Dean Poll has been a publicity campaign calling into question the way the Boathouse does business.

"REAL and FREE Bottled Spring Water," the labels of their protest prop reads. The aim is to shine a light on the Boathouse's alleged practice of charging $8 for a bottle that strikers claim is just repackaged tap water, according to another Gothamist post.

And because the restaurant has a contractual relationship with the city, the protesters have also sought to highlight the burden being borne by city taxpayers. They have started a website called dumpdean.com, which targets its operator.

Many city officials are quoted as supporting the workers on the website, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

"New Yorkers know an unfair situation when they see it. Luckily, the NYC Park Department has the power to make Dean Poll and the Boathouse restaurant do the right thing and stop breaking the law. I encourage them to use that power right away," he is quoted as saying.

Adding insult to injury, the embattled Boathouse also received low ratings this month during a city health inspection. Among the charges levied against the boathouse, says the New York Post, was evidence of live mice around food areas, "filth flies" throughout, dirty prep surfaces and contamination of food,

The inspection was a preliminary test before a final one next month. A score of 28 or more in violations warrants the lowest grade of "C," a mark which only the worst 4 percent of city restaurants receive, or roughly 25,000 eateries. On its first round, the Boathouse racked up 58 points.

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