Tenants Watch For Possible Doorman Strike In NYC
New Yorkers are bracing for a possible strike by 30,000 doormen, porters and other building workers.
If the workers go on strike, hundreds of New York City buildings will lose the people who accept packages, fix leaky faucets and hail taxis, among other things.
Upper East Side resident Gail Silverman said she was very worried about a possible strike. She said her neighbors have been asked to volunteer to sort mail or work a doorman shift if the walkout happens.
Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union and the building management group are fighting over wages and benefits, including health care, sick days and overtime rules.
The union's contract expires at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
The two sides are far apart, but, as always, a top union official admitted dollars are the ballgame.
"There are a number of issues, but most of them boil down to money," said Kevin Doyle of Local 32BJ.
Indeed. The Realty Advisory Board, representing the owners of the buildings, said the cost of maintaining the buildings has skyrocketed. And they said that the average cost of pensions and other benefits for each building employee adds about another $28,000 to their $40,000-plus base salary.
So, building owners want the workers to kick in about 10 percent to their health premium. They want sick days cut from 10 to five. And they want new workers in at less pay and benefits.
Howard Rothschild, president of the Realty Advisory Board, said there's still a long way to go in the negotiations.
"Progress is being made, but there are still significant issues with regards to wages and benefits to be resolved," Rothschild said.
"What they tell us in good times is, you're not our partners. You know, we don't share with them in good times. And they've done quite well over the years. And continue to do quite well. So we say that we're not asking to be your partners; we're asking for a fair increase," Doyle said.
Tenant Marilyn Redfield spoke for tenants everywhere Monday when she said she hopes there's no strike. "No, I hope it doesn't happen. I hope it all gets settled. I, um, it always distresses me when there's 'issues' and people have to strike. You know?" Redfield said.
"There's a sign-up sheet in our lobby. There's been absolutely no pressure for anybody to have to do it," tenant Erin Blakely said.
On the other hand, while tenant Samuel Secosky feels for the workers he's not 100 percent behind them.
"I think we all have to make sacrifices. I know I have," Secosky said.
Negotiations were continuing around the clock. Both sides came to an 11th hour agreement in 2006. But in 1991, there was a strike that lasted for 12 days.