Negotiations for a new, multi-year contract began last Thursday between the Realty Advisory Board (RAB), an industry association representing most building owners in New York City, and 32BJ SEIU, the largest private sector union in New York.
The contract covers 30,000 doormen and women, superintendents, resident managers, handypersons, concierges and porters working at apartment buildings throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, said, “These workers make New York home for more than two million tenants every day.
“With rents and the cost of living rising every year, we want to make sure that these hard working men and women can make New York their home as well.
“One way to change our tale of two cities is by making sure the jobs like those performed by our members continue to provide decent pay and good benefits.”
The two sides have enjoyed an amicable relationship for years reaching uninterrupted labor agreements for more than two decades, with the last strike being in 1991 and before that in the 1970s.
Howard Rothschild, president of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, said the talks this year got off to a “great start.”
“For 80 years, we have been an economic engine in New York City, creating and supporting more than 60,000 middle class jobs with great benefits. We plan to continue that tradition and will work with the union over the next two months to reach a contract that is fair and acceptable to both sides.”
According to the RAB, the current labor agreement, which was negotiated in 2010, allows average doorman or porter to make more than $76,800 in wages and benefits. An average handyperson makes more than $82,800 in wages and benefits.
All employees receive full family health insurance covering medical, dental, optical and prescription drug coverage, with no premium contribution from the employee.
And workers also receive a defined benefit pension fund and 401K annuity with an employer contribution, training and legal benefits and have up to 49 paid days off for holiday, vacation, sick and medical time.
32BJ SEIU members say that they need to keep up with the cost of living in NYC. “My rent just went up, from year to year it’s been growing. It can be tough,” said Eugene Amankwah, a doorman in Manhattan.
Donald McCaffrey, a porter in Flushing, Queens, added, “The residents know us and they trust us. There’s a relationship there.
“We are able to take care of them because, through our contract, we can take care of ourselves and our families.”
The union also want to maintain affordable family health care and funds for training and retirement.
“A fair contract would be in everyone’s interest,” said Figueroa. Talks to resume on March 13.