After nearly 20 years of working as a Master Carpenter and Machinist at Columbia University, SUNY Purchase, and Westchester Community College, Hudson Valley native Robb Archigian decided to change careers to help his wife, a former corporate event planner to raise their family. He took a shot at being a super, and he now manages 6.72-acre Brooklands – 137-unit residential co-op apartments in Bronxville.
“How many dads do you know are there when their kids wake up from their nap in the middle of the day,” Archigian said. However, there are times where he’s had to miss important events, like his son’s 7th birthday party. “There was a water main break at the complex, I did not have to be there, but when something happens to your property, you do what you have to do,” he said.
Archigian is part of the 32BJ SEIU bargaining committee responsible for negotiating a new contract with the Building and Realty Institute (BRI) of Westchester and The Mid-Hudson Region, Inc., a construction, development and real estate-related industry trade association in New York State with 1,500 members. The contract covers approximately 1,400 workers at 500 buildings in the Westchester County area, serving about 100,000 tenants. These workers deserve wages and benefits that allow them to continue to live and work in Westchester, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States where the annual cost of living for a family of four is up to $92,000.
“I’m fighting for a fair package for all the employees, such as the porters and the other workers who aren’t provided with residency,” he said. “Many of us have to keep up with transportation and living costs in Hudson Valley”.
For Archigian, paying for after-school programs, summer camps, sports, and other extra-curricular activities can be very expensive in a single income household in Westchester.
Archigian says young families need to focus on financial planning. “Education is so expensive in this country, therefore, securing a fair living wage for us is vital to be able to provide our children with educational and extracurricular opportunities,” he said.
During his eight years as a 32BJ member, Archigian has completed various courses at the union’s Thomas Shortman Training, Scholarship and Safety Fund. “The training fund is the single most valuable program offered to us,” he said. “It’s an incredibly useful tool.”. Archigian has earned numerous accreditations from green building to universal refrigeration certifications.
As a bargaining committee member he wants to ensure training continues to be available to members who want to further develop their skills, advance in their careers and have a better understanding of the complicated building operations.
His goal as a bargaining committee member is to win a fair wage increase while maintaining health and pension benefits.