NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of unionized New York City office cleaners hit the streets Wednesday afternoon to demand a fair contract.

Members of the 32BJ Service Employees International Union began marching from 41st Street and Sixth Avenue at 3 p.m. to 48th Street, where they rallied.

1010 WINS’  Terry Sheridan Reports

“This is really a fight for the middle class.  Everybody out here is somebody that works hard every day, goes to work at 4 o’clock, gets off at 1 o’clock in the morning,” said Mike Fishman, the president of the union.

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.

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The current contract expires at the end of the month.

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.

Comments (4)
  1. NYSmike says:

    $22 an hour, yes, but $47 K a year cannot feed a family of four. And they make the highest hourly salary in the country means nothing…you can’t compare cleaning a NY building say, with cleaning a building in Tampa, Florida. Apples and oranges. It’s sad that some of you complain about unions, but you fail to look at where the problem actually lies…with greedy owners who want more and more and more on the backs of workers.

  2. Steve says:

    Jesus Christ! 22 bucks an hour to clean the toilet!!! What the hell did I go to College for? How do I get their jobs?

  3. Danny says:

    They are making $22 per hour to push a vacuum and they are complaining!? If you wanted to get paid like a doctor, you should have become one.

  4. whiteeagle says:

    Seems to me that if they don’t like what they’re being paid, they ought to just step aside and let somebody who wants to work take the job. labor is no different than any other commodity, despite union rhetoric. When there is an oversupply/reduced demand, prices should drop down to the point where a willing buyer and willing seller can strike a deal. We can be sure that union workers look for look for bargains and negotiate prices (when it is possible, on things such as cars) when they are buying; it’s only right that people buying their services do the same thing.

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