Co-op City Building Workers Vote to Authorize a Strike

Co-op City Building Workers Vote to Authorize a Strike

NEW YORK: Hundreds of 32BJ SEIU building workers at Co-op City voted Thursday evening to authorize a strike after a spirited meeting at the massive Bronx apartment building complex. They were joined by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Assemblyman Carl Heastie and Councilman Andy King who pledged to support the workers in their fight for a fair contract.

“The cost of living keeps getting higher,” said Rafael Morales, a father of two who has been a porter at Co-op City for 13 years. “When you go to the supermarket, it’s not like it used to be. Everything is more expensive.  We’re just looking for a raise so we can keep up.”

At the meeting, Morales, 38, talked about the importance of keeping his health care coverage.

“The health insurance is very important to me,” he said. “Both of my kids have asthma, and it’s a relief to know that I can take them to the doctor and get them the medicine that they need.”

Co-op City tenants also said they supported a fair contract for the 500 maintenance and grounds workers, garage attendants, porters, public safety dispatchers and garbage collectors who work at the complex.

“The workers here do a great job,” said Steve Cohan, who has lived in Co-op City for 30 years. “They make sure the tenants are taken care of, and they deserve a raise that allows them to take care of themselves and their families.”

Union officials noted that 30,000 apartment building workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island recently ratified a contract that maintained quality health care and retirement benefits and provided a fair raise.

“32BJ members who work in Co-op City keep it clean, maintain a high quality life and help make it home for 50,000 residents,” said Kyle Bragg, Secretary-Treasurer of 32BJ SEIU. “Co-op City is an important part of the Bronx and the city, and the complex provides good jobs for people who live in the area. Still, 32BJ members often struggle to keep up with the cost of living. Our members deserve wages and benefits so they can continue to live and work in the Bronx, and make New York home for them and their families.”

Elected officials called on management to agree to a fair contract.

“The people of Co-op City deserve a clean, safe place to live, and the hundreds of members of 32BJ who work in Co-op City ensure they have that on a day-to-day basis,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I encourage management to reach a fair deal that benefits everyone in Co-op City.”

The decision by members to authorize a strike if needed allows 32BJ’s bargaining committee either to recommend a contract for ratification, or to call for a strike if talks with the RiverBay Corporation break down.

32BJ SEIU and RiverBay Corporation have held two bargaining sessions, and the next one is planned for May 27. The current contract expires June 8.

Major issues include fair wage increases to keep up with the rising cost of living, maintaining affordable family health care and ensuring adequate funds for training and retirement.

In the four years since the last contract, the consumer price index (CPI) in the New York City area has gone up by 10%.  Costs for some everyday items have skyrocketed – milk is up 33%, meat jumped by 21% and MetroCards rose by 22% since 2010.


With more than 145,000 members, including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service union in the country.


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