The owners of thousands of apartment buildings – including many co-op and condo boards – will begin negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement today with 31,000 building service workers represented by one of the city’s largest unions, Crain’s reports.
A four-year contract between the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB), which represents the property owners, and the Service Employees International Union’s 32BJ is set to expire April 20. The two sides will hash out wages and benefits for doormen, supers, resident managers, handypersons, concierges, and porters.
“Generally it goes well, and we hope it goes well this time around,” says Howard Rothschild, president of the RAB. “We’ve been doing these contracts with 32BJ since the mid-1930s.”
There has not been a strike since 1991. As always, the union will be pushing for increases in pay and benefits, which union president Héctor Figueroa says are reasonable demands because of the real estate market’s gains since the last accord was struck in 2014. “These workers need to be able to afford to live in the city where they work,” he says. “And collective bargaining still works as a path to the middle class.”
All doormen and porters receive a pension, access to a 401(k), and up to 49 paid days off annually. The union says doormen and porters have an average salary of $49,000; the RAB points out that the average value of their compensation package, including benefits, is $85,000.
Separate contract negotiations between building owners and unionized employees in Westchester County will begin later this year.
The city’s real estate market surged after 2014, but more recently rents and sale prices have slowed to a more measured rate of growth. Interpreting those statistics likely will play a key role in negotiations, which typically take weeks.
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