At midnight on April 20th, the current contract of the building service workers Union 32BJ, the local arm of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), expires. If the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB), which represents building owners, and union leaders don’t reach a new agreement before then, union members have agreed that they will walk out on the job. The contract in question covers more than 30,000 building staff in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, and a walkout of this magnitude would have enormous implications for property owners, managers and residents all over the City. The last building workers strike, which took place in 1991, lasted 12 days, and left apartment owners on their own to bring out the trash, guard the front door, handle deliveries, hail cabs, and a host of other day-to-day tasks usually managed by doormen, handymen, porters and supers.
Since then, the union contract has successfully been renegotiated without a walkout. This year, negotiations began in late February and both sides remain optimistic that a mutually agreeable contract will be drawn up before the April 20th deadline.
On April 2nd, thousands of union members rallied in Manhattan in support of the union’s demand for raises, continued health care and retirement benefits, agreeing to walk off the job if their demands are not met by the April 20th deadline. Speaking to marchers at the rally, Union President Hector Figueroa stated, “With record high rents across the city, it’s time for our raise.” Negotiations resume April 8th, with hopes that the talks will be successful.
RAB President Howard Rothschild released a statement last week regarding the rally and vote, saying, “Negotiations with the Union are going extremely well so far because we are both committed to the same goal: reaching a fair contract that includes wage increases and protects the generous health and pension benefits that workers enjoy today.”
While we at Douglas Elliman Property Management are hoping for a positive outcome to the negotiations, our managers always prepare their buildings for any eventuality. By creating systems for resident volunteers to take over the jobs of building staff in the unfortunate event of a walkout, and keeping unit owners informed, we will do our best to make sure that every building runs smoothly and safely without interruption. Our 24/7 Strike Committee and Information Hotline are continuously monitoring the situation and are ready to implement plans if a strike occurs. Keep checking our Facebook page (on.fb.me/1qeBmG8) and this blog for updates, where we will continue to keep you informed of the latest news on the contract negotiations.