Workers will rally on March 8 where they will vote on a resolution to authorize a strike if necessary. Their current contract expires March 14.
New York, NY – Thousands of door-people, handy-persons, porters and superintendents who sacrificed to keep Bronx families safe during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic are now fighting to keep their employer-paid comprehensive health benefits and to maintain the integrity of their union bargaining unit. Workers’ union contract is set to expire at midnight on March 14.
Following multiple bargaining sessions between the Bronx Realty Advisory Board (BRAB) and the elected 32BJ SEIU bargaining committee, the BRAB continues to seek ways to expand their ability to reduce the workforce without a reduction of work and demand:
- An existential attack on workers’ 100% employer-paid healthcare benefits by limiting coverage to 5 Star Centers – private doctor’s offices that partner with 32BJ to provide quality care for members for $0 co-pays.
- A separate contract for superintendents that would take away superintendents’ right to honor picket lines in the event of a strike. BRAB has also proposed eliminating other rights and benefits for superintendents, including overtime and just cause termination.
- Removing workers from the union contract by increasing the weekly hour threshold to be in the union.
A Strike Vote Rally, where members will vote to authorize their bargaining committee to call for a strike if necessary, will be held on March 8 (5:30 PM), outside the Bronx Supreme Court (851 Grand Concourse).
The current contract covers 1,404 workers at 433 co-ops, condos and apartment buildings. The negotiations also impact 374 buildings and 950 other workers who are covered by a linked “Bronx Master Independent Agreement.” A further 87 buildings and 358 members are covered by separate contracts that are indirectly impacted.
“The pandemic was scary and was a lot of work for us all. Supers, porters, handypersons and our painters also. We sacrificed so much and we went above and beyond. We’re asking for some recognition of that and for some respect,” said doorperson Anthony Renne who works at a complex with 500 units (5900 Arlington Ave). “I have an underlying heart issue that I take medication for. It was scary. Being on the front desk all the time, I was exposed to so many people. We tragically had some residents pass away from COVID. The deliveries, we disinfected all the packages, doorknobs, it was crazy. So many boxes. We did what we had to do to keep the buildings running. When residents got COVID, they couldn’t leave their apartments – so we delivered food to their door, because delivery people weren’t allowed in the building. Porters personally picked up their trash. We were always cleaning, keeping ourselves and residents safe. Masks, gloves. It was a tough time.”
“I have lived in the Bronx all my life – I used to live across the street from the building where I live and work now,” said superintendent Gretel Joel Tejeda. “I love being a Super, but I’m only making $17/hour, living in a one bedroom with two kids and my fiance. I’m hopeful we can come to an understanding, a fair agreement on a new contract.”
“These workers were there when the Bronx needed them most,” said Shirley Aldebol, 32BJ Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Residential Division. “They took no days off, sacrificing and risking their own lives so Bronx residents could quarantine and work from home. They are an essential part of what makes the Bronx what it is. They deserve fair wage increases and the continuation of their employer-paid health insurance. They will not be divided.”
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.