Bill Morris in Building Operations on October 21, 2022
Condo unit-owners who paid upward of $20 million for their apartments in the landmarked Clock Tower Building in Tribeca are now taking out the garbage and manning the front door after the building staff walked off the job, claiming management has failed to negotiate a promised union contract, Gothamist reports.
Fifteen building workers who act as porters, concierges and maintenance workers at 108 Leonard St. began a strike earlier this week. “It’s not like we’re asking for the world,” said Baris Guler, 31, a staff member on the picket line. “The building is not gonna run itself without us.”
The building's management company, El Ad US Holding Inc., voluntarily recognized the workers’ union in the spring of 2021, when they sought representation from local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. Negotiations have since come to a grinding halt, according to a union spokesperson and records from the National Labor Relations Board.
Workers at the building say they earn $21.50 an hour. They are pushing to be brought in line with roughly 30,000 workers across New York City represented by 32BJ, whose salary minimum is $28 an hour. Workers at the Clock Tower are also seeking better health care coverage among other benefits. The strike comes months after 32BJ negotiated a new four-year contract with the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, a group representing co-op and condo boards, building owners and managers. That contract kept employees' health care, vacation days and sick leave intact, and it provided average annual wage increases of 3% over the next four years.
That contract became newsworthy when the state issued a new rule that co-op and condo boards must pay prevailing wages – roughly equal to the 32BJ contract – if they want to continue to receive the coveted co-op and condo property tax abatement.
The Clock Tower workers had collected several dozen signatures from sympathetic residents of the building. Resident Julia Casper signed on in support as she left the building. She said she’d sent emails to management to ask them to bargain in good faith with the workers. “It breaks my heart," she said. "These are the guys who take care of us every day. The least we can do is take care of them. Our building doesn’t function without them.”
Another apartment owner in the building, Ryan Howard, who had been organizing residents in support of the maintenance workers, said residents too were having a hard time getting management to address pressing concerns about the building. “I have water falling out of the ceiling," Howard said. "I didn’t have power for a while. There were a bunch of issues.” Howard said he had encouraged other residents to write management pressuring them to bargain with the workers, but he doubted it would gain traction, when they were ignoring complaints from millionaire residents. “They don’t care,” he added.
The building boasts an indoor pool, a wine cellar, a fitness center and a private dining room, among other amenities. Units are currently available between $3.57 million and $24.45 million.
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