We have some bad news to report: Yakov Shtromandel, a longtime employee of the Chelsea Hotel who recently acted as interim manager of the hotel after BD Hotel’s dismissal, has himself been abruptly fired. The new manager, Andrew Tilley, gave no reason for Yakov’s termination. (As New York is a Right to Work state, and Yakov was not a member of the union, Tilley is not required to give a reason.) Yakov, a friend to many of us at the hotel, will be missed.
Suspiciously, however, the day before he was fired, Tilley had asked Yakov to sign a confidentiality agreement. This is the sort of thing they make you sign in Hollywood so you won’t be able to spill the beans on the big star’s illicit affairs after they can your ass. Yakov, however, didn’t feel he had any reason to be suspicious, because as far as he knew he was an employee in good standing (he loyally fulfilled the thankless job of interim manager at a time when the hotel was in a state of chaos, for instance). But apparently Tilley and Marlene Krauss thought he knew too much.
Reportedly, Yakov was not the only employee asked to sign the agreement. Several other employees were asked to do so last week as well. Although we don’t know how many were asked to sign, the ones we do know of have at least one thing in common: they are non-union employees. (Union employees can’t be fired at will.) Could this mean that more firings are in the works? Non-union employees include: Jerry Weinstein, Robert Rabara, Shefi Kowashnick, Faina Latsnelson, and Juan Gaviria among others.
The threat of firing is usually enough to keep workers from ratting out their bosses, so it stands to reason that if Tilley thinks he needs these confidentiality agreements, it’s because he knows he will no longer have the threat of firing to hold over their heads. (He’s not asking it of the Union employees, since he can’t fire them so easily anyway.) Our advice to non-union employees: don’t sign the confidentiality agreement.
Since Andrew Tilley, through his attendance at the Tenants Association Meeting, has shown himself to be open to discussing issues of importance with Chelsea Hotel residents, we think that concerned residents should ask him the following questions:
1. Why was Yakov abruptly fired?
2. Does he plan to fire other employees?
3. What’s up with the confidentiality agreements?
Many of these workers are part of the Chelsea Hotel family, and I believe we have a right to know the answers to these questions. -- Ed Hamilton