Low-Wage Workers at Luxury Condo Go On Strike

Low-Wage Workers at Luxury Condo Go On Strike

New York, NY—Building workers at 421 Hudson, also known as The Printing House, went out on strike  Wednesday afternoon, in response to intimidation and management’s threat to fire a worker after he was quoted in a local newspaper about his desire to join a union.

The Printing House, located in Manhattan’s West Village, has made headlines for its luxury accommodations, and an apartment is currently listed for $14 million. But the building’s concierges and cleaners make as little as $12 an hour and don’t have access to affordable health care.

After The Villager newspaper printed a story in which Printing House porter Kevin Samuel expressed a desire for better pay and a union, management threatened to fire him. He has worked at the building for more than 15 years.

“I started speaking out, because it is almost impossible to make ends meet on my salary,” said Samuel, 58, who works nights as a porter at the luxury building. “I’m trying to do right by my family, but we are barely making it. These apartments go for millions, so I know there is enough money to pay us decently.”

Management also threatened to fire long-time concierge Arturo Vergara, in response to his vocal support for improved working conditions.

“I like the tenants at The Printing House, and I like my job,” said Arturo Vergara, who has 3 and 6-year-old daughters and has been working as a concierge at the building for seven years. “But the threats from management just because we’re fighting for a union are not right. We’re fighting for our families; on my salary, I can barely afford the $800 a month I’m paying for my family’s health care coverage.”

32BJ has filed unfair labor practices charges in response to management’s threats.

The Printing House has attracted attention as one of Manhattan’s “most expensive condos,” but it stands out for its refusal to treat its workers with respect and pay them a salary they can live on in New York.

“I have relied upon the staff here at 421 Hudson since 1992, and they have never let me down,” said long-time tenant Melissa Dent. “They deserve the same wages and benefits as the rest of the residential workers in the city. These people have hearts of gold and they should not be paid 1945 wages.”

Last year, the condo board, led by developer Myles Horn, hired one of the most irresponsible contractors in the industry, Planned Lifestyle Services (PLS), to act as the subcontractor and manage the building staff at The Printing House. PLS is the residential arm of Planned Companies, a New Jersey-based maintenance and security contractor with a long, documented record of labor violations and a history of documented connections to organized crime.

“At a time when most New Yorkers are interested in reversing the city’s spiraling income inequality, The Printing House and its developer seem determined to make it worse,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “They want to make a name for themselves as innovative developers, but instead they are becoming symbols of the irresponsible 1%.”

With more than 145,000 members, including 75,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.

Follow us on Twitter@32BJ_SEIU #PrintingHouse


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