Negotiations Continue As New York Office Cleaners Strike Looms

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — New York’s office cleaners and other workers are threatening to put down their brooms and dusters and go on strike.

Bundled up in purple union hats, scarves and gloves, members of 32BJ braved a bitter wind Thursday as they marched around lower Manhattan.

About 100 union workers and their leadership, who gathered at Bowling Green Park, insist they are not asking for much and simply want what is fair.

1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer Reports

“All we want is a fair wage so every one of us can take care of our families. What these building owners are trying to do to us is not right,” one building worker told 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer.

Union spokesman Kwame Patterson said the union wants a fair wage increase and no cuts to pension and healthcare plans. He said round-the-clock negotiations began on Wednesday.

“We’re locked in negotiations. The two sides right now are still far apart on certain economic issues,” Patterson said.

The union is fighting against a proposal to create a two-tier wage and benefit system and fighting for wage increases.  The workers have also authorized a strike if no contract deal can be reached with the Realty Advisory Board.

A strike could potentially affect 1,500 commercial office buildings in the city including Rockefeller Center, the Met Life Building, the Empire State Building and the Time-Warner Center.

The union said the highest rate for its cleaners is $22.65 per hour, which amounts to about $47,000 annually.  That is a number that the union says is “significantly less than the household income that independent researchers have shown is necessary to support a family of four.”

However, management has said the city’s cleaning workers are the highest paid in the country.

Virginia, an office cleaner, is just 16 months from retirement and said she needs to know she can do that securely.

“We are asking to keep what we have — not take our benefits, they want to cut our benefits,” she said.

If workers don’t get what they want, they’re ready to walk off the job at midnight on New Year’s Day.

Do you think a deal will be reached?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

  • A.A. (CPM)

    As previously said, they avoided the strike on the last day of 2011!
    No strike!
    Good and fair contract for the next 4 years!

  • richie

    if there is a strike new york city will be out a lot of money from unemployment, no taxs and over time for the police to look over all 22,000 workers that will have no choice but to march around the city and putting traffic to a stop and office workers will have to deal with the temps that will be filling there pockets from there office knowing the strike wount be for ever



  • DCJ

    Building owners have never had it so good. The cost of these raises are passed on to the tenants of the buildings at no cost to the owners. On the other hand, the leadership of 32bj is awful. They are not labor leaders, they are business men. This union needs real leadership. Good bye us a ll a favor and step down. The pension these workers get tops off at $1300.00 a month, who can afford to retire on that.

  • mari

    good luck

    • A.A. (CPM)

      100 union workers out of over 20,000 doesn’t really show much support for a strike. At the last moment they will reach an agreement like happened before.
      Going back to their hourly wages and benefits we must also bring to light that even without an high school diploma you can get this kind of work making as stated above around $ 47,000 per year plus benefits which includes pension plan, medical, vision, dental, vacation, sich days, holidays and more while a college graduate in NYC who did spend a lot of money to get a college degree will be lucky to find a job today but with less money and less benefit than these workers. It is fair, it is wrong….it is not up to me to judge….certainly we have leaders and politicians that we elected to improve our life condition but as you all know….everything is going down to the drain, the final stage!

  • A.A. (CPM)

    Historically, there were few strikes by this Union. If there will be a strike, who will suffer will be the worker on strike and not the building’s owners or the Union officials. Even loosing one week wage it will takes more than a year to recoup the losses. I think good sense will prevail on both sides and a strike will be averted. As a European born were strikes are common like spaghetti and meat souce, I know who will suffer is always the worker!

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