White Plains, NY – Hundreds of 32BJ members voted to authorize the bargaining committee to call on a strike if contract talks breakdown by the Sept. 30 deadline with the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region Inc. (BRI) for the 1,400 doormen and women, superintendents, handypersons, and porters who work in hundreds of buildings in the Hudson Valley.
“We do not want to go on strike, however, if an agreement is not reached by the September 30th contract deadline, we are ready to do what we have to do to protect our families,” said John Santos, 32BJ Vice President.
The residential building workers who keep 500 Hudson Valley apartment buildings well-maintained, clean and safe are fighting to keep up with the cost of living in counties like Westchester which remains one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.
“In order to continue to make Hudson Valley home for ourselves and the 100,000 tenants we serve daily we need a fair wage increase, affordable family health care and pension security,” said Tony Castiglione, a 32BJ member for 39 years and a superintendent at Westgate Park Condominiums in Yonkers.
“As a father with a baby on the way,” said Abel Rodriguez, a 32BJ member who works as a superintendent in Larchmont, “better wages, job protection and secured health benefits would allow me to provide a better life for my kids, which is why I am ready to strike if I have to.”
Negotiations for a new contract began on July 30 between the BRI, a construction, development and real-estate-related industry and 32BJ SEIU, one of the largest private sector unions in New York. The union’s bargaining committee is comprised of elected leaders of 32BJ including many rank and file members, who have been chosen to represent all 1,400 residential members. Members authorized this committee to agree to a deal for the membership to ratify or to strike if a fair deal cannot be reached. The next bargaining session is September 22.
The hundreds-strong meeting was joined by labor leaders and local elected officials who stood in solidarity with workers.
“I stand in solidarity with residential workers because it’s important for Westchester’s economic growth that they maintain the benefits and protections they have so adamantly defended for so long,” said Senator David Carlucci.
32BJ was also joined by other elected officials including White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Assemblywoman Shelly Mayer. Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, Assemblyman Dave Buchwald, Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia.
With more than 145,000 members, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.
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