NEW YORK — Dozens of workers and supporters joined a rally in support of building workers at 231 10th Ave, a luxury condominium on the High Line, who went on strike Thursday. The workers, who make as little as $13 an hour in a building where one-bedroom apartments sell for $1.6 million, have been facing threats and intimidation. The union has filed 10 unfair labor practice charges against the building, but the federal shutdown has closed the National Labor Relations Board, making it unable to provide relief to the workers. The workers felt that striking was their only option.
Tenants enjoy much sought-after views, have access to the beautiful elevated park, can snack on pricey artisanal treats, but owners have refused to improve the working conditions in the building, or pay the workers a wage that could support a family. Workers also have no health care coverage.
“We felt we had no choice but to go out on strike,” said Cesar Coronel, a concierge at 231 10th Ave who is a father of four and works two jobs to support his family.
“It’s not an easy decision to make,” said Coronel, 41, who lives in the Bronx. “I have rent to pay, my children to take care of. But management has continued to violate our rights, and with the federal shutdown, we have no hope of getting our problems resolved by the Labor Board.”
The lively Thursday afternoon rally took place in front of the 231 10th Avenue condo located on the High Line. Workers held chanted, held signs, handed out leaflets and led chants. Elected officials joined the protest.
“I’m proud to stand in solidarity with the building service workers of 231 10th Avenue as they fight for their right to organize,” said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (D, WFP – Manhattan). “These dedicated workers earn wages that, even at full-time, are below the federal poverty guidelines for a family of four, and some are denied benefits. Fair pay and rights in the workplace are legal and moral imperatives, and I call on Argo Management to allow a free and fair unionization process.”
Union officials called on building owners Vesta 24 Condominiums to improve conditions at the building.
“These workers livelihoods are on the line, but they can’t get a resolution because of the federal shutdown,” said Kyle Bragg, Secretary-Treasurer of 32BJ SEIU. “The shutdown is having ripple effects on working families throughout the city. Now these workers, who only make as little as $13 an hour, have no health coverage, and are facing intimidation, have no choice but to strike, which will cause even more economic pain to them and their families.”
“We are calling on the building to do the right thing and stop intimidating these workers,” Bragg continued, “and for the Republican leadership in Congress to take a look at the hardship they are causing and get the government back to work.”
With 145,000 members in 11 states and the District of Columbia, including 75,000 in New York City, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country