Contract Negotiations Begin for Hundreds of Hudson Valley Residential Building Workers

Contract Negotiations Begin for Hundreds of Hudson Valley Residential Building Workers

WHITE PLAINS, NY — Collective bargaining for a new multi-year contract began today between the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region Inc., (BRI), a construction, development and real-estate-related industry and 32BJ SEIU, the largest private sector union in New York. The contract covers superintendents, janitors, handypersons, porters, doormen and elevator operators in 500 buildings in Hudson Valley serving about 100,000 tenants.

“We deserve a fair contract that enables us to live and work in Hudson Valley too, raise our children, stay healthy and plan to retire one day with a secure pension,” said John Santos, Vice President, 32BJ SEIU. “With the cost of food, gas and other living expenses rising every year in counties like Westchester where the wealthy reside, we want to make sure these hardworking men and women are able to provide for themselves and their families.”

Talks Focus on Health Care and Pensions

The union proposed to maintain affordable family health care, retirement benefits, funding for training and wage increases to keep up with the high cost of living in Westchester and neighboring counties.

“Our members struggle to make ends meet. We deserve secure health care benefits and a salary that enables us to continue to make Hudson Valley home for thousands of residents,” said Santos.

It is difficult to raise families where the annual living costs for a family of four is $92,000

The unemployment rate has declined to 5% and Westchester remains one of the wealthiest counties nationwide.

“The cost of living in Westchester is almost as high as the city,” said Eric Thompson, a handyman at a high-end co-op building in Bronxville. “Everything is getting more expensive. Even basic necessities like bread and milk are increasing. We hope to achieve an amicable agreement.” When Thompson’s wife was diagnosed with cancer last summer, health costs were so exorbitant that both his and her benefits were nearly exhausted. “If it wasn’t for 32BJ’s benefits package we would probably be out in the street,” he said.

Robb Archigian is a superintendent in Bronxville raising two boys with his wife on a single income. “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.

Negotiations to Resume on August 26th

Failure to reach an agreement by September 30th could lead to a strike directly affecting more than 100,000 New Yorkers living in hundreds apartment buildings across Hudson Valley. The next bargaining session will take place August 26th.

With more than 145,000 members, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service union in the country.

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