Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
CNYC Newsletter

Published: Summer 2003

The service employees who work in most of the apartment building in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island are members of Local 32B-32J of the Building Service Employees International Union. The terms of their employment are described in a contract which is renegotiated every three years. The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations Inc. (RAB) represents the owners of these apartment buildings in the negotiation of a pattern renewal contract as the existing contract expires every three years at midnight on the 20th of April.


  2003   2004   2005  

Benefits Wages Benefits Wages


Porters, Door staff Concierges, etc. $9.60 $18.00 $11.60 $19.00 $12.00* $20.00
Handy persons $9.60 $20.00 $11.60 $21.00 $12.00* $22.00
Superintendents $9.60 $21.00 $11.60 $21.00 $12.00* $23.00

This year, April 20th happened also to be Easter Sunday and the middle of Passover. In a cooperative effort to minimize disruption for New York apartment dwellers, the Union and management agreed to extend the contract to midnight on Tuesday, April 23rd, ensuring that building would have their regular staff present for the holidays.

In the months prior to the contract deadline, CNYC and the RAB had worked to prepare all of their member buildings to face the possibility of a strike of building service employees if negotiations broke down. Most buildings had made detailed plans and communicated them to residents. Identity cards or buttons were prepared; independent security guards were engaged, and plans were made to lock side doors, laundry rooms, bicycle rooms if building staff went on strike. Residents volunteered to help run their buildings. These preparations heightened awareness of all of the services regularly performed by building staff.

At CNYC’s Annual Meeting on March 11th, participants heard from D. Kenneth Patton, the Chairman of the Negotiating Team and James F. Berg, Esq., president of the RAB. They gave a progress report on the opening rounds of the negotiations and advised careful preparedness in case a strike occurred.

In the weeks prior to the contract deadline, Union and management held a number of meetings, where proposals were discussed, modified, or taken off the table. As the deadline approached, wages loomed as the key component left to be resolved. This final battle was hard fought. The Union was determined to achieve a fair wage increase for its members, while the RAB Negotiating Team was acutely aware of the financial pressure on all building owners in this year of increased property taxes, fuel costs and insurance premiums.

Despite their intensity, the negotiations were always cordial, with agreement finally coming shortly after midnight. The 28,000 Union members covered by this contract were near unanimity in ratifying it. Now comes the turn of the RAB membership, each of whom will receive copies of this pattern agreement. Each building has the option of accepting the RAB contract or to conduct their own negotiation with the Union. New contract terms are detailed below; the contract is effective retroactively to April 21, 2003 and remains in effect through Thursday, April 20, 2006.

The contract calls for pay increases for porters, door staff, concierges, etc. of $18 per week effective April 21, 2003, $19 per week effective April 21, 2004 and $21per week effective April 21, 2005. In addition, since January 1, 2003, owners have been providing an additional $9.60 per week to maintain coverage in the health and pension funds; effective January 1, 2004, an additional $11.60 is committed and $12 more effective January 1, 2005. Benefits modifications are traditionally negotiated in the Commercial contract, which expires on December 31, 2004. An increase of $12 is anticipated at that time. The overall package of salary plus benefits represents an average increase of 3.5%.

The contract changes the schedule of annual holidays for Union members but does not increase the number of holidays. Martin Luther King Day becomes a recognized Union holiday. Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday are merged into a single President’s Day Union holiday. The single elective holiday is now a choice among Lincoln’s Birthday, Good Friday, Yom Kippur and a Muslim religious day.

The agreement doubles the annual bonus for perfect attendance (= no sick days) to $200.


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