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Midtown Office Cleaners Strike, Say Pay Has Been Cut And Insurance Eliminated

Many Other Workers Fear Their Buildings Could Be Next
Office cleaners at two Midtown high-rises went on strike Wednesday, saying their salaries have been slashed and their health benefits have been done away with. (Credit Holli Haerr/1010 WINS)

Office cleaners at two Midtown high-rises went on strike Wednesday, saying their salaries have been slashed and their health benefits have been done away with. (Credit Holli Haerr/1010 WINS)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Office cleaners at two Midtown high-rises went on strike Wednesday, saying their salaries have been slashed and their health benefits have been done away with.

As 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reported, hundreds of building service workers represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ joined the workers who went on strike at 286 and 295 Madison Ave.

The workers said when the owners of 295 Madison Ave. switched cleaning companies to Novell Services Group, their salaries were cut nearly in half and their health insurance and other benefits were eliminated.

“We lost all our benefits. We’re making less than half of what we were making, and our work increased,” one employee said.

Local 32BJ said it has been trying to negotiate a new contract with APF Properties at 286 Madison Ave. since the current contract expired in 2010. APF Properties has also cut wages and will not negotiate with workers about alternative health care coverage since the workers lost their insurance plans, the union said.

“It is another example of why New York is becoming a tale of two cities,” a union representative said.

Many office cleaning workers worry that their buildings could be next.

Officials at 286 Madison Ave. declined to comment. The company that operates 295 Madison Ave. has not responded to inquiries.

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