Doormen authorize strike ahead of agreement expiration

Bargaining continues as April 20 deadline draws near

Workers and doormen in New York City’s luxury buildings have moved one step closer to striking.

The employees, through their 32BJ-SEIU union, authorized a strike on Wednesday, the City reported. The union’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on April 20, paving the way for a strike if an agreement with the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations isn’t reached by then.

The contract applies to workers including superintendents, handymen and concierges properties owned or managed by major property players including Related Companies, Allied Partners, Vornado Realty Trust that negotiate together as the RAB, the City noted.

The two sides are at odds on a number of issues, including employee benefits.

Management is proposing cuts to paid vacation and sick time, in addition to adding worker contributions towards health insurance currently covered entirely by building and apartment owners, according to the City. Workers, meanwhile, want increased pay and benefits, citing their importance in the pandemic and skyrocketing rents in the city.

The union and advisory board often find themselves at odds, only to come to a deal at the last minute. In 2019, union office cleaners and landlords reached a deal on a four-year contract about a week ahead of deadline, days after a massive rally where members authorized a strike.

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A similar scene appears to be unfolding this year as the strike authorization occurred after workers held a rally on Park Avenue in the Upper East Side, which drew appearances from Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Kathy Hochul. The last time workers held a strike was 1991, when the move lasted 12 days.

Kyle Bragg, 32BJ-SEIU president, said he is “optimistic” about the progress of talks, but said there was still a long way to go. Realty Advisory Board President Howard Rothschild said the goal is to maintain labor peace while calling management’s demands “reasonable.”

A strike would impact more than 3,000 buildings and 550,000 residents in the city. More than 30,000 workers would be part of a strike, including superintendents, porters, handymen, concierges and door attendants, disrupting package and security systems.

Negotiations took place on Tuesday, according to the City, and are expected to pick back up on Thursday.

[The City] — Holden Walter-Warner