UNIONDALE — Late Wednesday afternoon, members of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union voted to ratify a new four-year agreement on their wages, benefits and working conditions as superintendents, handymen and women, porters and other building service workers for tens of thousands of Long Island residents in apartment buildings and condos. The contract covers workers at residences in Hempstead, Hewlett, Long Beach, Great Neck, Floral Park, Port Washington, Roslyn Heights, Glen Cove, and many other communities across both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Negotiators with 32BJ SEIU, the largest building service employees union in the nation, and the Realty Advisory Board reached a tentative agreement late Friday, June 1, three days before the former contract was set to expire.
“The pandemic brought to light a long-hidden truth: residential building workers provide an service for tens of thousands of Long Islanders that is absolutely essential,” said Lenore Friedlaender, who heads 32BJ SEIU on the island. “We are pleased that the RAB and the union have reached an accord that allows them to provide for themselves and their families as they keep their buildings safe, secure and running well. This contract protects their employer-provided health care, and provides a sensible wage increase over the four-year life of the contract that will increase workers’ wage and benefits package by over $190 a week over the life of the agreement, helping them keep up with the dramatically rising cost of living. We are also pleased that the contract expands access to the Shortman Training Fund, which has allowed workers to improve their skills while staying on the job, and provides some language on new hires that strengthens our anti-discrimination policies. The overwhelming endorsement of the proposal proves that the bargaining committee served their union brothers and sisters admirably. “
“The health benefits made a huge difference for my five children when they were young, and now they have helped me as I approach retirement,” said Alfreda Simpkins, a porter in Mineola and member of the bargaining committee. “Because of regular breast exams that our plan encourages and fully covers, I was able to discover and treat a recent problem before it needed more serious intervention. I am proud to say this level of coverage will now be offered to the next generation of workers as well.”
”The Shortman training fund was an invaluable tool, helping me advance in my career, and our good wage increases allowed me to support the college education of my two kids,” said bargaining committee member Ray Kraja, a superintendent at a 14-acre complex in Roslyn Heights. “We are pleased that the BRI will continue supporting our benefits, and that this new contract will provide us a fair wage increase, so we can continue to dedicate ourselves fully to our tenant’s welfare, as I have been doing since 1989.”
With 163,000 affiliates in 11 states, including 1,000 on Long Island, 32BJ SEIU is the largest building service workers union in the country.