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A Conversation About a New Super

Dana: Our superintendent of over 30 years retired, and the new man – previously working elsewhere as a porter not a super – was hired at the salary of the man with 30 years of longevity. This is Local 32BJ of the SEIU [Service Employees International Union] in the Bronx. Would someone please let me know, can this be accurate? Thank you.

AR: The union will always tell you that this needs to be the case. This is their desire not law or mandatory protocol. I had a 32BJ super retire two years ago in an UWS [Upper West Side] building and they wanted my new super (who was also previously a [non-union] porter in another building) to start at the same salary. I negotiated it down to almost half that. It is the manager’s job to continually negotiate the contracts with the union delegate/rep., not just upon hiring. Unfortunately, most just take the suggestions of the union rep. as law and abide by their demands.

Dana: Thank you – this is good to know. You did a great job! With all the other contract benefits our live-in super gets (such as a rent-free apartment, etc.), one would think a person employed with no superintendent’s experience would not automatically get the same amount as a long-term super’s salary. It doesn’t happen in other fields of work, and it doesn’t make sense it would happen here. Thank you again.

AdC: I believe the current 32BJ contract has some guidelines for a new superintendent’s salary. It’s a matter of consulting the contract to find out. As a board you should have interviewed the person and probably known his salary demands. If the salary requested was far above the guidelines of the union and you complied, it meant that you felt the person was pretty competent and capable of fulfilling the expected responsibilities of the position for the salary demanded or you just fell in love with the man.

Dana: Thank you very much for responding. We were told by our property manager that any employee replacing our retiring employee had to be offered the same salary, and so he was hired at that amount. The question has come up since that time. The union contract posted on the internet gives hourly rates. I believe that I’ve seen in the past that a new employee would receive the same salary unless the outgoing employee was receiving a high salary due to longevity.

Anonymous: If the superintendent you had was making, say, 45K base, then the new superintendent gets the same salary. Some buildings pay their superintendent a base salary and after that they give him a weekly bonus of, say, $50 to $100. The new superintendent does not get that until he earns it or the board awards him with it.

RLM: I’m not sure this advice is entirely accurate. If the super’s salary was based on both longevity and skill level, and you hired someone who was a porter and had never before been a super, with much less work experience, I believe you could offer a lower starting salary.

Alice-T: Advice? The board is ultimately responsible, and because of the mess our MA [managing agent] made in our building, we have now learned that, no matter how much you like them, or how good they are – too often the ManAgent takes the easy way out... and also, tends to try to get the best deal for the staff – as opposed to the SH [shareholders]. Our MA tried to get us to sign up for a $6,000 parking perk – claimed it was the “industry standard.” We did a survey and found out this was not true. Boards have to be more responsible and do their homework.

Dana: Alice, thank you, I agree, and have heard stories about other PMs [property managers] before. It’s up to the directors to be on top of things, but too often everything is left to the PM (“that’s her job”) – rather than keep alert or set the policy for the PM carry out. One of the new directors didn’t know that the PM was hired by us, rather than the other way around, so didn’t question anything lest the PM be “upset.” (The salary was one of these issues.) Thank you very much for the clarification. Sometimes, it’s not easy to get to the heart of a situation, but habitatmag’s “Board Talk” is a real help. Thanks again.

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