Bronx building workers reach tentative agreement, avert strike
Stephon Johnson | 3/21/2019, midnight
With a possible strike on the horizon, Bronx building workers agreed to a tentative deal with the Bronx Realty Advisory board.
The workers, represented by 32BJ SEIU, agreed on a deal where workers would see a 15.4 percent raise of four years and protects their existing pensions and health insurance benefits. Now, the board waits on the building workers to formally approve of the deal.
“This agreement honors the valuable contributions of the hardworking men and women who keep our buildings running and make our city strong,” stated Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “With this agreement our members, our families and our communities are moving forward.”
32BJ SEIU began contract negotiations with the Bronx Realty Advisor Board in February with the goal of fair minimum rates for new hires, fair wage increases and the maintenance of health and pension benefits.
Bronx building workers are made up of doormen and doorwomen, porters, handypersons and supers.
“We were able to win because we stayed united and we fought for what we deserve. I feel great, especially for the members with lower wages,” stated Elpidio Molina a Bronx handyman and a member of the bargaining committee. “Raising the floor brings us to a new level and gives us the living wage we need. One of the greatest accomplishments was just keeping what we had and making sure that when the time comes we will be able to pay for health insurance or be able to live into our old age.”
The union noted that in the second half of 2017, Bronx investors spent $1.5 billion, an increase from 2016. Over the past 25 years, the Bronx population grew over 25 percent and average residential prices passed their pre-recession peak for the first time in the second quarter of 2017.
Also according to 32BJ, building service workers now found themselves struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living in the Bronx and in five boroughs in general. During a recent rally, with almost 1,000 building workers present, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and New York City Council Members Francisco Moya, Diana Ayala and Rafael Salamanca expressed support for the building workers.
32BJ Vice President and Bargaining Committee Leader John Santos, said that the new contract will not only help workers, but help their families navigate the financial and economic maze that New York City has become.
“When one set of workers wins a fair contract, we raise the standards for all workers. As a union we united for this contract and we will continue to fight for those workers who suffer without union representation, under poor working conditions and low wages,” said Santos in a statement. “What makes our union special is that when we win for our families we continue thinking about those workers who also deserve a chance to make ends meet and be able to live in this city.”