Building service workers protest for better wages and benefits (305208)
Credit: Courtesy of 32BJ SEIU

Luxury building service workers joined together with employees recently to protest for better wages and benefits.

Joined by New York State Sen. Brian Benjamin and New York State Assembly Members Harvey Epstein and Jennifer Rajkumar, building service employees took to 432 West 52nd Street in Manhattan in their fight for better pay. The Manhattan luxury condo in question, which houses million-dollar apartments, recently received close to $200,000 in tax abatements.

Workers said they just want management to do right by them.

“I take a lot of pride in my job making a nice home for everyone who lives in this building—especially during the pandemic,” said the building’s concierge Rafael Pabon. “But I risked my health and my family’s health every day for a job that doesn’t pay me enough to take care of my family. On top of that our health plan is so unaffordable that I have spent the last 15 months worried that if I got sick with COVID, I wouldn’t be able to go to the hospital because I’d get a huge bill.

“This is no way to live.”

The AmNews was unable to reach the owners of 432 West 52nd Street.

According to 32BJ SEIU, the union representing doormen, porters and concierges, workers at 432 West 52nd Street in Manhattan make as little as $16.50 an hour in a building where the average sales price for a condo is more than $1 million.

The union represents close to 2,000 doormen, concierge, porters and other building service workers who have continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic with jobs they say lack affordable health care.

Sen. Benjamin and New York State Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa have decided to do something about the issue. The duo has introduced legislation in Albany that would make the owners of any luxury housing building that receives tax abatements obligated to pay workers a “prevailing wage.”

“Building service workers have been a lifeline for New Yorkers during the pandemic,” stated Benjamin. “They deserve good pay and benefits and these luxury buildings can certainly afford to pay them that.”

“The doormen and doorwomen, porters, concierges and other workers are part of what makes this city a great place to live,” added Assembly Member Epstein. “They deserve good jobs.”

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