Regulars at the Ha'penny pub and Ferdinand's both on Mt. Auburn St., will find both restaurants closed "until further notice," as the result of conflict between the restaurants' staffs and the single management which runs both of them over the firing of all employees at the Ha'penny.
On December 29, 13 waiters and bartenders and the manager of the Ha'penny were fired, and the restaurant was closed "without prior warnings or notice," a spokesman for the fired workers said yesterday.
Ninety per cent of the Ferdinand's staff decided to unionize after the fired Ha'penny workers held an "informational picket line" in front of Ferdinand's on New Year's Eve.
The next day, Ferdinand's employees held a meeting to discuss the firings and submitted to management a request for collective bargaining, naming Local 26 of the AFL-CIO Hotel Restaurant and Institution Employees and Bartenders Union as their bargaining agent.
Only two of the restaurant's 30 employees refused to sign the petition requesting collective bargaining, another spokesman for the workers said. The spokesman said one worker sympathizes with the fired employees but still has misgiving about unionization. The other employee reportedly refused to sign the petitions and subsequently resigned. Neither employee who refused to sign the petition was available for comment yesterday.
Over the weekend, employees of the Ha'penny and Ferdinand's continued the picket line, a spokesman said.
Yesterday, when Ferdinand's employees arrived at the restaurant the doors were locked and a letter was posted from Louis F. Digiovanni, the owner, which stated that their services were "no longer required."
The restaurant's closing "is not a small thing; it has the potential to be very big," Daniel F. Clifford, the financial secretary of Local 26 said last night.
"What these people have done is be courageous, and it has been effective to the point where they have closed down a restaurant with a very powerful owner," Clifford added.
Managers of Ferdinand's, Haim Iffrah and Isaac Dray, refused to coment on the restaurant's closing. They said DiGiovanni--who also owns the Ha'penny, adjacent restaurants The Blue Parrot and The Idler, and The Atrium Cafe on Church St.--was out of town for the week.
The president of Local 26, Domenic N. Bozzotto, yesterday said the union has not yet decided whether to protest the actions taken by the management of the Ha'penny and Ferdinand's through the National Labor Relations Board or in an independent court action.
Bozzotto said that since March, employees of many restaurants in the Cambridge area have expressed interest in joining the union, which also represents the Harvard food services employees. "There seems to be great unrest in Cambridge among restaurant workers," he said.
Bozzotto added that several employees of other Cambridge restaurants took part in the picket line.
Bozzotto said the union contacted employees of the Blue Parrot and The Idler--which, although they are owned by DiGiovanni, are part of a separate corporation--and that many have said they want to join the union. "They're very concerned about their own job security," he added.
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