32BJ SEIU, office owners avoid strike with tentative labor contract

The two sides tentatively agreed to wages ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline

A moment during massive rally in Midtown this week (Credit: SEIU 32BJ)
A moment during massive rally in Midtown this week (Credit: SEIU 32BJ)

Union office cleaners and landlords have reached a tentative deal for a new four-year contract — more than a week ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline.

32BJ SEIU and the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations have agreed to an annual weighted average wage increase of 2.54 percent, meaning that an average office cleaner stands to make $61,304 by the end of the contract in December 2023, the parties announced Friday. As part of the deal, the average annual wage and benefit increase will be 2.87 percent.

“We are proud to have reached a fair deal that thoughtfully considered the regulatory and legislative challenges — as well as a softening real estate market — facing the industry,” RAB President Howard Rothschild said in a statement. “In anticipation of leaner economic times ahead, the wages and benefits we agreed to are a responsible solution for the next four years.”

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The 2015 contract featured a higher annual wage and benefit increase of 3.7 percent. But as part of the latest agreement, two key RAB proposals were dropped. The group had sought to force employees to contribute to their healthcare costs and wanted to create a new “tier II” employee, namely a less-experienced and lower-paid worker. 32BJ leaders indicated earlier this week that both suggestions could lead to a strike.

“Our bargaining committee worked very hard to get this strong new agreement, and we are quite happy that our work paid off,” SEIU 32BJ President Kyle Bragg said in a statement.

The tentative agreement also includes stricter sexual harassment policies, such as requiring employers to provide and post a sexual harassment policy in the workplace and protecting workers against harassment by third parties.

The union held a massive rally Wednesday, where members authorized a strike should 32BJ and RAB fail to reach an agreement before the end of the year.