NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – A lockout of union maintenance workers at a 59-building Brooklyn rental complex has led to a major backlog of desperately needed repairs.
Maintenance workers at Flatbush Gardens said Management Renaissance Equity Holdings, which owns the buildings, will not allow them to work because of their refusal to accept a 34-percent pay cut. Workers said the company also wants them to accept cuts to health benefits and pensions.
Workers are now picketing each day outside the buildings, holding signs demanding a fair contract.
The New York Department of Sanitation has not been collecting trash from the complex because doing so would require crossing picket lines. They have, however, been ordered to do so twice in the last three weeks by order of the Department of Health. Under normal circumstances, it would be picked up three times a week.
The garbage piles have become so big that cars have to swerve around them. However, tenants like Yolanda Castellano said there were bigger problems inside the buildings, including mold, mice, roaches, broken windows and sewage leaks.
“Our children are getting sick. Our children are getting injured,” Castellano told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.
Maintenance men like Rudolph Barry said they wanted to get back to work, but not with the reduced pay that management was proposing.
“If we’re getting $21 that means they put it to $14 — you can’t live off of that,” Barry said.
Management Renaissance Equity Holdings said it was working toward an agreement, but workers said the proposed cuts were too steep.
“It is hard. We have rent to pay, mortgage — everything,” Claudius Alexander said. “They’re not letting us work. They’re trying to punish us.”
Herman Hines said Service Employees International Union’s Local 32 BJ did agree to a wage freeze, but it wasn’t enough.
“They didn’t want to hear it. They give one offer, that was the final offer,” Hines said.
Tenants have also complained about temporary non-union workers that have been hired during the lock out. They said some fill-in workers were unqualified and that they did not trust some of them in their homes.