UNION AND MANAGEMENT REACH CONTRACT
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.
COSTS TO BUILDINGS WITH 32B-32J EMPLOYEES
Door staff Concierges, etc.
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.
WAGES AND BENEFITS
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
The agreement doubles the annual bonus for perfect attendance
(= no sick days) to $200.