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Owners strike deal with building workers on extended COVID benefits

The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB) and 32BJ announced an agreement to create a voluntary early retirement incentive program for building service workers and to extend health benefits for furloughed workers for an additional 30 days (for a total of 120 days) of coverage.

COVID-19 has already taken a toll on the city’s front line workers, including building service workers who have been showing up every day since the pandemic began.

In response to concerns being raised by many older members who are at heightened risk for COVID-19, Local 32BJ proposed the creation of a voluntary incentive program so that workers who were already considering retirement would have a chance to do so with a substantial added benefit.


“When the union approached us with the idea of a voluntary retirement incentive program, so that more workers could have the peace of mind to retire and reduce their risk of infection, we were proud to come together to offer it,” said Howard Rothschild, President of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations.  

“The road ahead will not be easy, but by continuing to work together, we can better protect workers and help keep New York moving forward.”

“32BJ members remain on the front lines of this pandemic, keeping NYC clean and safe so that we can get through this together,” said Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU. “We are pleased to work with the industry to ensure that our eligible members can voluntarily retire with safety and dignity. We are happy to give older workers the option to leave the workforce with the added financial security that working families desperately need during these difficult times.”

To be eligible for the voluntary early retirement incentive program, an employee must be over 62 years of age and have 15 years of service credit in the pension program. Approximately 5,500 to 6,000 employees are expected to be eligible for the program. Employees can choose to opt-in from July 15 to September 30.

Employees who opt-in will get payment a one-time payment of up to $20,000 to their 401k account plus an additional six to up to ten weeks termination pay depending on their contract, in addition to pension benefits and health coverage if they are not yet Medicare eligible. If all eligible workers opt-in to the program, it would cost approximately $110 million.

RAB represents building owners of commercial and multifamily buildings throughout New York City, while 32BJ’s 60,000 members include doormen, handypersons, superintendents, office cleaners, maintenance workers, elevator operators, porters, lobby attendants, and some security professionals, who work in more than 3,000 residential properties and 900 commercial properties.

The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB) was formed in 1933 as an organization through which employers in the building service industry could bargain with unions. The RAB represents building owners in one of the most unionized industries in New York City and its building service workers are among one of the highest paid in the country.

With 175,000 members, 85,000 in New York, SEIU 32BJ is the largest building service union in the nation. 32BJ SEIU represents doormen and women, cleaners, security officers, school workers, airport workers and thousands of other building services workers up and down the East Coast.

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