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NYC doormen's union, residential owners agree to avert first strike in 31 years

By Ashley Williams
NYC doormen's union, residential owners agree to avert first strike in 31 years
Residential apartment buildings are seen on the lower east side of New York City. The expected strike on Thursday would have been the first for residential building workers in the city in more than three decades. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 20 (UPI) -- A strike that would have seen thousands of residential doormen in New York City walk off the job this week appears to have been averted by a tentative agreement on a new contract, union and realty officials said.

The deal was reached by the local 32BJ Service Employees International Union and the city's Realty Advisory Board on Tuesday. About 32,000 residential building workers voted for the strike over concerns about their contract, which expires Wednesday. The strike would have occurred Thursday.

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The workers said they weren't seeking a large pay increase, but rather they wanted recognition for their roles as front-line workers.

As part of the tentative deal, workers at more than 3,000 buildings in New York City -- superintendents, doormen, handymen and porters -- will receive a 12.6% wage increase over four years, the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations said.

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"We got a deal done that protects healthcare, with no premium sharing. We got a deal done that protects paid time off. We got a deal done that provides the economic security our members need in a time of rising inflation," 32BJ President Kyle Bragg said in a statement.

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"We got a deal done that our members have earned and deserved. This contract honors the indispensable contributions that 32BJ members made throughout the [COVID-19] pandemic and includes pay bonuses -- a powerful recognition of our members' sacrifice."

The raise, which includes a onetime $3,000 bonus to counterbalance inflation impacts, will be the largest that 32BJ members have ever received, Bragg noted.

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Union membership still must approve the agreement, which would run through April 20, 2026.

The deal also provides protected paid sick leave and vacation time and 100% employer-paid healthcare. Wages will rise by an average of $62,000 annually for doormen by the end of the contract.

The Realty Advisory Board negotiates collective bargaining agreements on behalf of building owners with unions that represent their maintenance and operating employees.

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Board President Howard Rothschild called the agreement a show of the industry's "respect for our essential workers."

"The agreement builds on the important work [we] and 32BJ accomplished together throughout the pandemic, protecting jobs and maintaining solid health benefits," Rothschild said according to WABC-TV.

The city's residential workers carrying an increased workload during the pandemic was a key consideration of the negotiation process, both sides said.

"As people were contracting the virus rapidly at a maddening pace, our members continued to go to work every day to make sure the homes that they work in, the apartment buildings they work in, that the tenants that lived there were both safe and secure," Bragg said according to Spectrum News.

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The deal covers workers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island who serve roughly 1.5 million residents.

The strike on Thursday would have been the first for residential building service workers in the city since a 12-day walkout in 1991.

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