Contract Talks Begin for 31,000 New York City Apartment Building Workers

Contract Talks Begin for 31,000 New York City Apartment Building Workers

Real estate industry prospering with rents and sales holding near record highs; 3,500 apartment buildings, coops and condos and 1.5 million residents affected

New York, NY–Negotiations for a new, multi-year contract begin today between the Realty Advisory Board (RAB), an industry association representing most building owners in New York City and 32BJ SEIU, the largest private sector union in New York. The contract covers 31,000 doormen and women, superintendents, resident managers, handypersons, concierges and porters working at apartment buildings throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

“For generations our members have made New York City a warm, welcoming home for millions of New Yorkers,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “They are part of the building family in over 3,500 buildings across the city and they want to be able to take care of their owNn families as well.”

The current four-year contract expires on April 20th. Workers on the bargaining committee said they need a good contract that enables them to continue living in the city and provide a bright future for their families.

“We take a lot of pride in our work making New York City the best city in the world,” said bargaining committee member John Battle, a doorman on the Upper East Side. “We’re New Yorkers too and we want to make sure we protect our health care, pension and other benefits and get the raise we need so we can keep living in the city that we love.”

Talks Focus on Wages, Health Care, Pensions and Training

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.

“A fair contract is good for our members, good for the real estate industry and good for our city,” said Figueroa. “Our members are part of the heart and soul of this city and the diverse middle class that makes it so great. We need to ensure the jobs like those performed by our members continue to provide decent pay and good benefits.”

Not Easy Raising a Family on $49K a Year in NYC

The cost of living keeps going up and it’s getting more and more expensive to live in New York City. Rents are up from four years ago and so are costs for everyday items like food staples—oranges are up 17% and butter is up 22%, MetroCards rose by 10% and car insurance is up 29% since 2014.

“Keeping up with rising costs is hard to do in this city, even when you work a full time job,” said Pedro Peralta, a porter in Queens. “Covering monthly expenses for me and my family is always a challenge and I want to make sure that I can continue to do that over the next four years. That’s why we need a fair raise in this contract.”

Real Estate Industry Has Done Well in the Past Four Years

New York City apartment prices have soared since the last contract negotiation, with the Manhattan median sales price at $1.1 million in 2017, up 21% from 2014. Other boroughs have shown strong increases too with prices at or near record highs in Brooklyn and Queens.

According to StreetEasy, average NYC asking rents have gone up 33% since 2010. Vacancy rates are also very low at 2% in Manhattan and less than 4% across the city according to a recent media report.

The recently passed changes to federal tax law championed by the President and Republicans are another boon for the real estate industry, including the reduced corporate tax rate and the 20% pass-through income deduction that are likely to help the industry’s bottom line.

Talks to Resume on March 15th

Failure to reach an agreement by April 20th could lead to a strike directly affecting more than 1.5 million New Yorkers living in 3,500 apartment buildings across the city. The next bargaining session will take place March 15th.

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With more than 163,000 members, including 80,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.

Visit or follow us on Twitter @32BJSEIU #BuildingFamiliesNYC


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