With the current four-year pact set to expire on Friday, April 20, forward-thinking co-op and condo boards have been girding for the possibility of a walkout by more than 31,000 unionized building employees. Those precautions have been rendered unnecessary by some very good news.
Negotiators for the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB), which represents co-ops, condos and other building owners, have reached a tentative agreement with the Service Employees International Union’s Local 32BJ, which represents supers, doormen, porters and handypersons in 3,500 buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
The agreement is still subject to ratification votes by both sides. The RAB board is scheduled to vote on April 23. The union’s rank and file are scheduled to vote on May 11. The latter is likely to be a formality, as members of the union’s bargaining committee say they plan to vote in favor of the contract and are encouraging their co-workers to do the same, according to a release from 32BJ.
“We are proud to have reached a fair and successful agreement,” says Howard Rothschild, president of the RAB. “It will continue to create and provide middle-class jobs and ultimately bring us to more than 30 years of uninterrupted labor peace.”
If ratified, the new contract will run through April 20, 2022. The last walkout by unionized workers was in 1991.
Under the new tentative contract, the average wage will increase 2.73 percent annually, which will bring the total wage for a typical doorperson or porter to $55,017 by the end of the contract. The average annual wage-and-benefit increase will be 3.32 percent, or approximately 13.28 percent over the four-year contract. Members of New York City’s 32BJ will continue to be among the highest paid residential building service workers in the country, in one of the most heavily unionized job sectors in the city.
Union members will continue to receive full family health insurance covering medical, dental, optical and prescription drug needs. Under the agreement, employees will also continue to receive a defined benefit pension and a 401K annuity with an employer contribution.
“This contract will allow me to continue to provide a decent life for my kids,” says Derbert King, a father of three who works as a super in Queens. “My dream is to send them to college.”
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