Labor Hotline |
BUILDING EMPLOYEES' CONTRACT EXPIRES AT MIDNIGHT ON 4/20/97
R.A.B. Will Represent Owners in Negotiations
Every three years, at midnight on the 20th of April, the contract between
Local 32B-32J of the Building Service Employees International Union and
the owners of residential apartment buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn,
Queens, and Staten Island expires. For more than 50 years, the Realty
Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Inc. (RAB) has been the bargaining
representative for the majority of buildings in New York City in negotiating
successors to this and other labor contracts.
This contract negotiation affects more than 3,000 buildings that are
members of the RAB and have employees who are members of Local 32B-32J
of the Service Employees International Union. Buildings with 32B-32J employees
that are not RAB members will be offered the more onerous "Independent"
contract. Your building can join the RAB now and benefit from its preferred
contract. Buildings with non-union employees or with employees who are
members of other unions will not be affected. Most Bronx building employees
belong to Local 32E whose contract expires next fall.
CO-OPS & CONDOS PLAY A KEY ROLE
Since a substantial majority of workers covered by this contract are
employed in New York cooperatives and condominiums, it is natural that
the RAB pay careful attention to the priorities of its co-op and condo
members. As tenant-homeowners, we are the ones who must reach into our
own pockets to meet any increases in labor costs that result from this
contract. While we are pleased to enjoy a reputation for very fair treatment
of our service employees, we cannot afford to yield to demands for excessive
wage increases or costly benefits.
CNYC is represented on the Board of Directors of the RAB by Mary Ann
Rothman, who has been a member of the negotiating team for the last five
contracts. Rothman has been asked to serve again this year, and another
direct co-op/condo representative, Rita Chu, has also been named to the
negotiating team. As president of the board of her own cooperative and
a community activist, Chu has been an active participant in the activities
of CNYC for several years.
negotiating team is chaired by D. Kenneth Patton, a real estate professional
who himself lives in a cooperative. It also includes property management
executives Jim O'Connor of Insignia Properties and Jack Levy of Rose Associates,
owner/ manager Arnold Goldstein, who is president of the Rent Stabilization
Association, property owner Seymour Zuckerman who is a past president
of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP). Preliminary meetings
reflect their clear determination to reach a fair settlement that is not
overly burdensome to those who must pay.
Membership in the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Inc. (RAB)
is an important asset to every building with service employees. Your annual
membership fee (payable semi-annually) brings the resources of the RAB
to you in all of your dealings with labor, including the day-to-day administration
of the contract. If you seek to reprimand or to dismiss an employee, the
RAB will provide advice and services. At the time of contract negotiations,
the RAB serves as your bargaining representative. A "most favored
nation" clause in the RAB contract guarantees that RAB members will
benefit from the best contract terms negotiated.
This year, as in years past, every effort will be made to reach an equitable
agreement in a timely manner. The RAB will be able to deal from the position
of greatest strength if all of its member buildings stand firmly behind
the negotiators. It is likely that the Union will once again opt out of
multi-employer bargaining and purport to be ready to negotiate separately
with each building. This is simply a negotiating ploy which does not affect
your building in any way. The RAB will negotiate a pattern contract, which
each RAB member building will have the option to ratify. If you or your
managing agent are approached by the Union to negotiate separately, please
advise the Union that the RAB is your bargaining representative and will
negotiate on your behalf.
DO NOT SIGN ANY PRIVATE AGREEMENT WITH THE UNION
If the Union contacts your building directly, please do not be lured
into a private negotiation; simply advise the Union that the RAB is your
negotiating representative. Particularly if a strike should occur, solidarity
is vital to the success of the RAB negotiators. Therefore, if the Union
invites you to sign a "Me Too" agreement, which guarantees you
the terms that the RAB will ultimately negotiate in exchange for keeping
your employees at work during a strike, PLEASE RESIST. Each building that
signs a "Me Too" weakens the negotiating strength of the management
Tell the Union that the RAB will represent you in all negotiations, and
that, although you would not like to have a strike in your building, you
stand firmly with the rest of the residential buildings in this city.
As the April 20th deadline approaches, CNYC will be available to answer
your questions about strike preparations. An information chain is being
established so that updates from the RAB and from CNYC can be faxed directly
to your building if a strike should occur. Contact CNYC with the FAX number
at which you would like to receive this information. CNYC's World Wide
Web Information Center will contain preparation information and updates
If an agreement is not reached by midnight on the 20th of April, the
Union may call a strike. This is a tactic by which the Union seeks to
apply pressure on building owners to accept its contract demands. But
we resident homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums will be directly
affected by any increase in labor costs. Clearly, we will be the least
likely to respond to such pressure and capitulate to unreasonable demands.
In 1991, when negotiations broke down and a strike occurred, we showed
that we can rally to operate our buildings in the absence of service employees.
This year we will be equally well-prepared to resist pressure of this
nature and to support the RAB for as long as it may take to negotiate
a fair and equitable contract.
In the past, when an impasse occurred, sometimes both sides have agreed
to stop the clock and continue to negotiate until agreement is reached.
On other occasions, the Union has quickly called a strike. There is no
easy way to predict what will happen this year, so buildings must be well
prepared for every eventuality.
The Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums' booklet, "In
the Event of a Strike. . .", will be sent to all member cooperatives
and condominiums with service employees and to all CNYC professional subscribers
in March. This booklet is designed to help member buildings provide for
the safety, comfort, and well-being of all residents if building service
employees are called out on strike. It suggests procedures to follow to
insure building security, to keep building systems functioning, and to
keep residents informed of developments. If your building was not yet
resident owned or controlled at the time of the last contract negotiation,
this booklet will be of particular interest. As always, you are free to
make copies of this booklet and to use the material that it contains in
your communications to residents. Additional copies can be purchased from
CNYC for $5.
TWO WORKSHOPS & THIS WEBSITE TO PROVIDE UPDATES
Generally, negotiations progress v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y until the final
days and hours before the contract expires. Therefore, it will be difficult
to provide substantial news in advance. CNYC has scheduled two important
labor workshops focused on the contract deadline. On April 15th a progress
report will be provided on the negotiations, and members will be helped
with final preparations to run their buildings if a strike occurs. Another
session is scheduled for April 21st, where it is hoped that the terms
of the new contract will be described. If instead a strike is in progress,
support will be offered. See Coming Events
for details on these meetings.
As the contract expiration approaches, the RAB will maintain a 24-hour
hotline to answer your questions at (212) 889-4100. The FAX chain and
CNYC WWW Information Center will give regular updates if a strike should
occur. Be sure that CNYC and RAB have your FAX number if you wish to receive
information. As soon as an agreement is reached on a successor contract,
the terms will be summarized to the FAX chain and published on the CNYC
World Wide Web Information Center.