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'Meat cloud' vexes BizDay staffers at NY Times building

03/11/2014

Several weeks ago, a group of BizDay reporters on the second floor of the Times building alerted us to an odor of cooking meat from the steakhouse downstairs that was lingering over part of their work space. They had brought the matter to the attention of the Facilities Department last fall, but the smells persisted. Several BizDay employees were suffering health effects, including burning eyes and breathing issues, from what had been dubbed a “meat cloud.”

The Guild gathered information and pursued the matter with Labor Relations. Shortly afterward, the Facilities Department worked on a ventilation duct coming into the newsroom where the odor was most noticeable. But the problem continued. Labor Relations then agreed to our suggestion that the air be professionally tested, which was done by industrial hygienists on Feb. 18. On Friday, The Times received the results: no carcinogens, carbon monoxide or other harmful elements were detected.

While obviously this is good news, the odor has not completely abated. The industrial hygienists said the smell seemed strongest near the windows and might not necessarily be coming from the vents and ductwork. Times management said it would look into this further, and that sealing the windows might be a solution.

For now, this is being considered a “quality of life” issue and not a health concern. Nonetheless, Times managers have temporarily relocated the people who felt the effects of the fumes and said they would look into moving others if need be.  Needless to say, a permanent solution to the “meat cloud” problem is the goal.

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We are always seeking volunteers who would like to be more active in Guild activities, including serving as shop stewards. If you're a Guild member at The Times and you are interested in finding out more, please contact Unit Chair Grant Glickson at ext. 1030 or (732) 685-5018, or Grievance Chair Mindy Matthews at ext. 1751 or 7336.

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