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32BJ members tell luxury developer that they're 'naughty,' rally in Jersey

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 1/3/2013, 3:21 p.m.
32BJ members tell luxury developer that they're 'naughty,' rally in Jersey

Members of 32BJ SEIU, joined by a person dressed as Santa and his little helpers, visited the Park Avenue South headquarters of TF Cornerstone last week to let them know that they were on the naughty list for undercutting area standards for New York's working people. TF Cornerstone is one of the fastest-growing real estate developers in New York City.

Holding a poster sign that showed Cornerstone on Santa's naughty list, the group stood outside Cornerstone's 387 Park Avenue South headquarters to let them know that they weren't being forgotten during the holidays.

"Cornerstone charges $5,000 for two-bedroom apartments," said 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President Larry Engelstein. "It can afford to provide its service workers safety training, retirement security and advancement opportunities that are up to industry standards. That's what's expected in our city, that's what responsible landlords have been paying for decades." 32BJ SEIU represents 70,000 building service workers in the New York.

According to 32BJ SEIU organizer Alex Vargas, Cornerstone would have to pay only $2 per hour more for its service workers to have the same working opportunities, training and retirement security as other building service workers in the city.

"That's all, just $2 per hour per worker, and Cornerstone could stop this destructive race to the bottom that is hurting our city's working families," Vargas said.

In New Jersey, security officers employed by Harvard Protective Services rallied outside of a waterfront luxury building at 90 Hudson St. in Jersey City to proclaim their right to organize free from management-led coercion.

Workers claim that HPS management threatened to fire them for discussing unionizing. 32BJ also filed an unfair labor practice charge last week against HPS in Philadelphia after management provided a memo to security officers threatening to fire them on the spot if they talked about the union on company property. In both cases, the security officers want better wages, training and benefits and improved overall treatment from their employers.

"Harvard provides me and my coworkers with insufficient training to handle the many and varied day-to-day problems that may arise on the job," said Jonathan Rodriguez, a security officer at 90 Hudson St. "Yet it is my duty to make sure all building tenants are as safe as possible. Because of the nature of our jobs, it is essential that security officers are able to provide the best security available for the public. But we must also be able to provide security for our families."