Politics New York doorman strike is averted as workers reach...

New York doorman strike is averted as workers reach contract deal

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They’re striking – a deal.

A union representing doormen and other apartment building employees in New York agreed to a new contract on Tuesday, after threatened workers a work stoppage that could have left luxurious lobbies unmanned across the city.

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The deal, announced late Tuesday afternoon, came one day ahead of a deadline to reach an accord. About 32,000 workers – doormen, superintendents and handymen among them – were waiting on the new contract.

The Realty Advisory Board On Labor, which represents property owners and managers, announced the deal, saying the four-year agreement would guarantee an average 3% annual wage increase for building workers and bring a typical doorman’s yearly salary to $62,000.

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The current contract between the workers, who are represented by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, was due to expire on Wednesday.

“The industry is proud to have reached a fair agreement that will continue to create and support middle class jobs for more than 30,000 workers over the next four years,” Howard Rothschild, the president of the Realty Advisory Board, said in a statement.

Kyle Bragg, the president of 32BJ SEIU, celebrated a deal that ensured full family health insurance coverage.

“We have a deal!” Bragg said in his statement. “This contract honors the indispensable contributions that 32BJ members made throughout the pandemic and includes pay bonuses – a powerful recognition of our members’ sacrifice.

“They were there, keeping our buildings running and our communities safe, when the city needed them most,” Bragg added in the statement.

Kyle Bragg, 32BJ’s president, delivers remarks during the opening of One Vanderbilt in Manhattan, New York on September 14, 2020. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

As late as Tuesday afternoon, the negotiations seemed to remain fluid. Sticking points revolved around employees’ health care costs and access to paid time off.

“While we have made progress over the past few weeks of negotiations, we still have a gap to bridge,” Rothschild said in the statement released earlier on Tuesday.

During negotiations, 32BJ SEIU highlighted the workers’ service across the pandemic. Last week, the building workers voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike.

The Realty Advisory Board, meanwhile, emphasized the financial hardships landlords incurred during the health crisis, pointing to empty units, diving rents and heightened operating costs.

But New York’s real estate market has roared back. Some 10,000 essential workers, by 32BJ SEIU’s account, flooded Park Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side last Wednesday to push for fair wages and health care benefits.

Gov. Hochul appeared at the rally, rooting on the residential workers. “I’m not going to stop talking until labor wins their fights,” Hochul, a Democrat, declared. “I’m with you every step of the way.”

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“They call you essential workers,” she added. “That sounds nice. But if they’re that essential, why don’t we pay them what they deserve?”

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