A million New Yorkers may soon be opening their own building doors, taking out their own garbage, doing their own repairs, and hailing their own cabs, as 30,000 workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island prepare to go on strike. The contracts for the workers at 3,200 apartment buildings across the city expire on Wednesdays; workers include doormen, concierges, porters, and handymen.
The workers, who largely serve upscale buildings, are members of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. They have voted to walk off the job if contract negotiations reach an impasse.
Meetings were held across the city this past week, as they discussed both picket line rules and legal issues.
Building owners say they have been affected by the recession, and are asking that the workers reduce the number of sick days from 10 to five, and also pay for 10 percent of family health insurance. Eliminating pensions for new employees is also under consideration, as is denying new workers full pay for five years. The Realty Advisory Board, which represents the building owners, says that costs are going up and income is going down, with real estate taxes rising, rents being cut, and apartments losing value.
Workers say that their current salaries are not enough to cover the costs of raising a family in the city. In addition, they worry that older workers have a strong chance of being laid off, since hiring new ones would ultimately cost less.
Contract negotiations are taking place at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Stay tuned—and get ready to pick up your own dry cleaning…
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