We wrote about the labor dispute enveloping the Boathouse restaurant in this week’s issue of The Observer. But there is another dispute surrounding the historic eatery, that doesn’t so much pit brother-on-brother, but cousin-on-cousin.
Among the mostly Latino and African-American workers on strike is a slight, blonde former cocktail waitress named Chrissy Makris who is one of the most fervent voices on the picket line.
She is also a second cousin of Dean Poll, the operator of the Boathouse and the target of most of the strikers’ ire.
According to Makris, she moved to New York from Florida when her father — who is a first cousin of Poll’s father — saw Poll at a funeral for a family member late last year. Poll mentioned that he was hiring at the Boathouse, and Makris’ father mentioned that his daughter had experience and was looking for work.
Chrissy Makris started in March, but said she was fired suddenly at the end of June because she called in sick one day, even though she found a replacement to cover her shift. She believes, however, that she was fired because she supported the efforts of the workers to form a union.
“The next day I worked it happened to be the morning that the union was voting whether or not we should go on strike,” she said. “They fired me, told me I was taking the power into my own hands. That is a direct quote. They said you can’t just switch your shift, you need to tell us in advance. And I said, ‘I didn’t know I was going to wake up sick at 7 o’clock in the morning.’”
Poll scoffed at the notion that Makris was fired for organizing activities.
“I find that interesting,” he said in an interview earlier this week, while the protest carried on outside. “My cousin is out there. Do you think I would think my cousin was a union sympathizer? The fact is she didn’t do a good job. In fairness to the other people here, I have to have people doing a good job.”
Makris said after she was fired, her uncle — who is also Poll’s uncle — called up his nephew on her behalf to find out what happened and was told “she deserved it.”
This seems to be a dispute that will outlast even the labor dispute at the Boathouse. Yesterday, Makris’ father and mother joined their daughter on the picket line.
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