Fort Lee, NJ – Today, July 20th, an estimated 82 essential building service workers from Horizon House, with the support of several members from New Jersey and New York, agreed to authorize a strike in case the Horizon House Board of Directors do not agree to a new contract for all porters, doorpersons, superintendents, and handypersons. The new contract should include fair wage increases, full employer-paid health care for families, and no givebacks after 32BJ members demonstrated their commitment and service throughout the two-year pandemic.
Building workers voted to give the bargaining committee the power to call for a strike if necessary. This would be the second time Horizon House workers resort to a strike to have their demands heard. In January 2019, the Horizon House workers striked for 3 days to protest the Board’s bad faith bargaining, save their jobs, and preserve decent retirement benefits. Workers were able to reach an agreement, but lost their pension plan in favor of an inadequately-funded 401K. Much like three years ago, residents continue to show overwhelming support for their staff during this trying time.
Since May 2022, the union and the bargaining committee have held 5 bargaining sessions, where the Horizon House Executive Board offered wage increases of 60 cents per hour over the course of 4 years. Additionally, they are demanding the that workers pay thousands into their healthcare. Lastly, they also refuse to pay the new hires more than minimum wage, and will not increase the 401k contributions, despite ripping away the pension last time around.
“To offer a wage increase of less than 1% raise per year for the average employee and taking money out of the workers take home pay is just insulting,” said Kevin Brown, Executive Vice President and NJ State Director for 32BJ. “The workers are ready and prepared to fight for a fair contract with reasonable wage increases, no premium sharing healthcare, and additional 401K contributions.”
Member of the Bargaining Committee Christopher Saperstein said, “At the bargaining table, I stand up tall and proud because I know I have the power of a union behind me. The board has demanded that we pay into our healthcare. What a slap in the face. This has brought us together and made us even stronger. I want to thank all the 32BJ members who have stood with us over the past few months.”
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers’ union in the country.