WPCNR STATE OF THE UNION. Special to WPCNR from the Service Employees Union Internation 32BJ. October 4, 2018:
Early this evening, hundreds of residential building workers held a vote to ratify an agreement with property owners and managers that will provide workers almost 11% in raises over four years, fully protect their health and retirement benefits, and maintain the current rules governing staffing. The contract, an agreement on wages, benefits, and basic rights on the job, was approved by a nearly unanimous vote.
It was reached on Friday, September 30, between the workers’ union, 32BJ SEIU, and the managers and owners’ organization, the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region (BRI).
The agreement covers 1,400 superintendents, porters, handy-people, door attendants and others who work at 500 properties across Westchester and Rockland counties.
“This agreement honors the valuable contributions of the hardworking men and women who keep our apartment buildings, co-ops and condos running,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ SEIU.
“They dedicate themselves day in and day out to the support of 100,000 residents in the Hudson Valley, and keeping the buildings they live in clean and well-maintained. With this ratified contract, our members, our families, and these 100,000 residents are moving forward together.”
“As a father who knows the importance of the health benefits, I am extremely pleased with the agreement ratified today,” said John Ryan, a member of the bargaining committee and superintendent of a building complex in White Plains.
“Years ago, our health insurance helped my oldest son beat a chronic and debilitating childhood condition. Now, he drives a truck for a living right here in the Hudson Valley. I’m proud to be able to continue my job knowing our healthcare, wages, and staffing levels are secure.”
“This contract is a victory not only for these hardworking supers and porters, but for the entire Hudson Valley,” said New York State Senator Shelley Mayer, who spoke at the strike-authorization vote and a massive union rally in Scarsdale.
“These workers provide the skills and dedicated attention that keeps our buildings running. The staffing and benefits protections and the wage increase will help our communities as a whole, since everyone benefits from a strong, reliable, healthy and experienced workforce. I commend BRI for working constructively with 32BJ SEIU to find a fair and timely resolution of these issues.”
Negotiations between 32BJ SEIU and the BRI began on August 15. As contract expiration neared, 32BJ members gathered on September 13 at the Westchester County Center for a vote that authorized the bargaining committee to call a strike, if necessary.
Workers then rallied to show their strength in Scarsdale on September 26 with community allies like Make the Road CT and Indivisible Westchester, as well as with the unions represented by the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body, and elected officials from the state legislature and the Westchester County Board of Legislators.
The tentative deal was struck on Friday, the last day of scheduled negotiations, thus eliminating the need for a strike, and tonight’s ratification vote was scheduled shortly thereafter.