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Building owners step up to help doormen, cleaners

The city’s building owners are getting behind their doormen, cleaners  and security staff with a vow to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations the group that represents owners, and the service workers union, SEIU 32BJ, have formed a support plan for the city’s 60,000 residential and commercial building service workers that includes full pay for quarantined workers and extended health care.

“The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic challenges all of us to be at our best for the good of our world,” said Howard Rothschild, President of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations. 


“The need for total cooperation among various parties is clear and vital. We are totally committed to doing our part for the good of our tenants and the entire city, and we are pleased to have such a positive relationship with 32BJ in addressing our respective needs during this important time.”

The RAB said it is working hand-in-hand with the union to make sure workers are being taken care of during the crisis and that critical building services continue.

Under Governor Andrew’s Cuomo’s executive order, building workers have been deemed essential employees.

The RAB said the emergency plan  is designed to create greater flexibility to allow them to continue working during the COVID-19 pandemic while also being able to deal with personal and family health issues.

Highlights of the agreement include:    

  • Employees who are laid off/ineligible for health coverage on or after March 6th will be provided with an additional 30 days (for total of 60 days) of coverage.
  • If an employee is directed to self-quarantine because of workplace COVID-19 exposure, the employee will be paid 2 weeks of paid time off without reduction of existing entitlements.
  • If an employee self-quarantines for any other reason, the employer may permit the employee to use his/her PTO or statutory paid leave, if available.
  • For statutory paid leave, the mandatory paid leave provision applicable to the largest covered employer will apply to all regardless of their individual size.
  • In the event that a building needs to reduce staffing, the employer will attempt to offer displaced employees temporary assignments at other locations without regard to seniority, and including possible redeployment of staff from commercial buildings to residential buildings.
  • RAB and 32BJ have vowed to work closely together throughout the duration of the pandemic.

Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan said, “Now is the time for everyone to come together to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.  This announcement ensures the best professionals in the world running our buildings are well-treated in this time of crisis.  32BJ SEIU and RAB are to be commended for their continued exemplary labor-management relationship.”

“This is an important first step to protect 32BJ building service workers who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU.


“We will continue ongoing discussions with the industry to obtain appropriate protections for our members to allow them to support their families in these trying times. As this crisis continues, protecting the workers who keep New York’s buildings clean and safe will be crucial to the city’s recovery.”

Additionally, effective immediately, a coordination committee including representatives of both RAB and 32BJ will monitor emerging pandemic news and its impact on building operations, including the enactment of new federal, state, and city regulations and legislation.  The two parties are committed to working together on an ongoing basis to continue to address the unprecedented situation as it evolves.

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.

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.

For updates, owners and workers can visit:  or follow @RABOLR

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