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HABITAT Extra: Salary, Benefits and the Real Cost of a Union Employee

Kathryn Farrell in Building Operations on March 6, 2014

New York City

March 6, 2014

The Raw Numbers The expiring contract sets the salaries for doormen and porters at $44,390 per year; handymen and handywomen receive $49,000. But superintendents and resident managers do not have a union-approved base salary. Instead, because of the extreme range in the size of residential buildings, their base salaries are decided by individual boards. Supers often also have additional benefits that other union employees don't, such as an apartment in the building where they work, or a board-supplied car.

While the base salaries are for the most part set by 32BJ, boards are allowed to give raises and offer bonuses to their union employees at their discretion.

The Full Deal The union benefits package, however, is not up for debate. It is the same for every union member, and each employer is required to help finance the union benefits fund (actually five individual funds):

●  Health provides coverage for hospital visits, medical treatment, mental health care, and substance abuse counseling / treatment. It also covers drug prescriptions, dental care, vision care, life insurance, and disability benefits.

●  Training offers free classes to help members advance in the industry, either through initial training or by working to improve existing skills.

●  Pension guarantees an income after they retire.

●  SRSP (Supplemental Retirement and Savings) is a 401(k) savings plan that provides additional money at retirement (and to which employees are also encouraged to contribute).

●  Legal provides free lawyers to help union members with legal problems and questions.The two biggest funds are Health and Pension.

A review of the current contract reveals that health benefits make up between 66 and 70 percent of a union employee's benefits package, while the pension is between 23 and 25 percent. The legal, training and SRSP/401(k) funds total between three and eight percent. 

Boards should be aware, though, that this benefits package does not include sick days, vacation days, holiday pay, or overtime, all of which have to be accounted for by the board when budgeting for a union employee.


2014 Annual Benefits Breakdown per Union Employee 

Health         $14,794.62
Pension     4,927.52
401(k)         520.00
Training        169.60
Legal        199.68 
Total $20,611.42   


(Accurate as of Jan. 1, 2014. Figures supplied by the Realty Advisory Board 


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