Union Rat Invades Gramercy Park, Emerges Victorious

Edwin Booth
A dramatization: New York's infamous union rat prepares to devour actor Edwin Booth, one of the founders of the Players Club. Photo: Photo Illustration: Getty Images, John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery.

After two weeks of unsightly picketing and the (even more unwelcome) presence of a giant inflatable union rat in genteel Gramercy Park, Local 6 of Unite Here and the Players Club reached an agreement Friday afternoon. It reinstates sixteen union members from the club's restaurant and bar operations who were fired as a cost-cutting measure. John Turchiano, a union spokesman, said the terminated union members return to work today with back pay. "They got everything they wanted, and now we will sit down with management and try out to work out any financial difficulty now that they're abiding by an arbiter's ruling," he said, referring to an arbiter's January 15 ruling ordering the Players Club to reinstate the terminated employees with back pay.

The agreement staved off a scheduled picket (with the rat) outside a Saturday-afternoon wedding at the Players Club. The celebration was to be catered by Elegant Affairs, the Long Island company whose non-union workers replaced the terminated union members in August. Turchiano said the signed agreement ends a six-month stalemate with the club. It also scraps the club's lawsuit filed in January protesting an arbiter's ruling in January. He attributed the agreement to "the picketing, the rat and the concern of dues paying members of the Players Club." —Mary Reinholz

Earlier: The Union Rat Descends Upon Gramercy Park