White Plains, N.Y. – Local 32BJ SEIU and the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region Inc., (BRI) reached a tentative agreement on Tuesday that would provide 16% wage and benefit increases over four years, maintaining health care as well as retirement benefits. If ratified by the membership, the contract would cover 1,400 superintendents, porters, janitors, elevator operators, doormen and women, and handypersons in 500 buildings across the Hudson Valley.
The deal contains no economic givebacks, keeps quality training services, affordable family health care and pensions protected, and provides annual strong wage increases, that keeps members ahead of the rising cost of living. Through this contract, the BRI made clear that they value the professional and dedicated employees who make Hudson Valley home for 100,000 residents.
“The hard working men and women in the Hudson Valley won a well-deserved contract, which allows them to provide a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said Hector Figueroa, president, Local 32BJ SEIU. “The industry understands that a stronger economy is possible only when good jobs are maintained. We will continue to fight to maintain good union jobs that give working families a path to the middle class.”
Bargaining between Local 32BJ and the BRI began on July 30th. The unity and strength of union members, combined with a growing real estate industry and employers who came to the table ready to negotiate a fair deal, resulted in an agreement that works for all parties involved, and does not inconvenience the tenants who would have been greatly affected if a strike would have occurred.
“Today we are proud to say that we have reached a deal with a strong contract for 1,400 hard working women and men who keep Hudson Valley apartment buildings well-maintained, clean and safe all year round,” said John Santos, vice president of Local 32BJ SEIU. “This tentative deal will allow hundreds of residential building workers to keep up with the cost of living in Westchester, which remains one of the wealthiest areas in the US.”
“This contract will allow me to pay my bills on time and start a college fund for my kids,” said Abel Rodriguez, a superintendent in Larchmont. “As a father with a baby on the way, I can sleep a little better knowing that I am getting a pay increase and that my affordable family health care and retirement benefits will stay intact.”
The contract must be ratified by the membership. Local 32BJ members, who form part of the bargaining committee, said they planned to vote for the contract and encourage their co-workers to do the same.
“From new members to workers who are reaching retirement age, this contract works for everyone,” said Manny Rivera, a handyperson in Yonkers. “We made sure that the benefits our brothers and sisters fought for years before were maintained,”
“I feel relieved,” said Felix Cano, a doorman in a co-op building in Yonkers. “We earned a good contract with a fair wage increase and secure benefits that help close the gap between the city contract and our contract; it also places us in a better position for future bargaining.”
The union built tremendous political, community and labor support through this contract campaign. Many elected officials, community groups and other labor unions supported Local 32BJ SEIU in the fight to ensure that 1,400 working families can continue to afford to call Westchester home.
With 145,000 members in 11 states in the District of Columbia, including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.