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Strike by Building Service Employees Is Averted

New York City

Contract talks, strike averted, Realty Advisory Board, Local 32BJ, co-op and condo boards, building service employees.
April 19, 2022

“We got a deal!”

With those four jubilant words on Tuesday afternoon, Kyle Bragg, president of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, caused more than a million New Yorkers to breathe a sigh of relief. Negotiators for the union and the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB), which represents building owners, including co-op and condo boards, reached agreement on a tentative four-year contract just hours before the April 20 expiration of the current agreement. There will be no walkout by 32,000 service employees — doormen, handymen, porters, concierges and others — in more than 3,000 buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

The pact, which now goes to a vote of the union rank and file and the RAB board, will provide an average wage and benefit increase of 3.17% annually and, crucially, will preserve 100% employer-paid healthcare, with no premium sharing by employees. This had been a major source of contention during weeks of tense negotiations. Additionally, essential workers who remained on the job during the pandemic will receive a one-time $3,000 bonus. No changes were made to paid vacation and paid sick leave. The contract, if ratified by both sides, means New York City’s 32BJ members will remain among the highest paid building service employees in the nation.

“We got a deal done that our members have earned and deserved,” Bragg said. “This contract honors the indispensable contributions that 32BJ members made throughout the pandemic and includes pay bonuses — a powerful recognition of our members’ sacrifice. They were there, keeping our buildings running and our communities safe, when the city needed them most.”

RAB president Howard Rothschild added: “The agreement builds on the important work RAB and 32BJ accomplished together throughout the pandemic — protecting jobs and maintaining solid health benefits — and further shows the industry’s respect and appreciation for our essential workers with a substantial bonus. We would like to thank all residential building service workers for their tireless dedication and commitment during a tremendously challenging period.”

Other new provisions of the contract include the establishment of a labor/management committee that will seek additional savings on hospital prices, with a goal of saving $100 million or more per year. Additionally, the agreement includes provisions for a smoother grievance and arbitration process, and an expedited and consistent process for all staffing adjustments, as well as an increased new hire probationary period.

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