New York doormen avert strike By Matthew Robinson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York doormen doffed their caps to relieved New Yorkers on Friday morning after a last-minute contract deal between apartment workers and owners averted a strike, sparing well-off city residents from having to hail their own taxis and take out their own trash.
The 28,000 workers, mainly in Manhattan, had threatened to walk off the job at 3,500 city residences by midnight on Thursday after failing in two months of negotiations to come to terms on wages and benefits.
The threatened strike, which would have affected up to 1 million residents, was postponed just before midnight as both sides reported sudden progress in the talks.
Less than two hours later, the doormen's union and building owners announced a tentative four-year contract.
"I was relieved. My building is like a family, so I don't want to go on strike," Joe Celentano, a 30-year-old doorman on New York's prestigious Central Park West.
A strike would have left apartment owners and residents to take on tasks performed by their doormen, porters and handymen -- everything from pressing elevator buttons to moving furniture and taking in deliveries.
"I feel like it's terrific. I think the doorman got what they deserved. I was happy there was a settlement," said Bill Germano, who had volunteered to perform doorman jobs in his Upper West Side building in case of a strike.
Doormen currently earn an average of about $37,000 a year, the union said. They also receive tips for special services and as recognition on holidays.
The agreement, which must be approved by the union rank and file, provides workers an average wage increase of about 2 percent a year -- a boost the union acknowledged was unlikely to keep pace with inflation.
It also requires building owners to continue full payment of workers' health insurance premiums and ensures employee insurance co-payments will not be raised, said Matthew Nerzig, a spokesman for Local 32BJ of the Building Service Workers Union.
"At a time when health care costs are increasing dramatically, the agreement will preserve our health benefits, which was our main concern," Nerzig said.
Building owners previously insisted on a wage freeze and called on workers to significantly finance their own health care, Nerzig said.
"We did this in recognition of the cost of living in New York City and the turmoil that a strike would cause for our residents and employees," said the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents building owners.
Not all union members were pleased with the deal.
"I'm not really happy with the 2 percent. It comes to $4 or $5 extra a week. It doesn't help with the cost of living, you can't go to the movies, you can't buy a six-pack of cheap beer," said Carl Freeman, a doorman of 31 years.
(Additional reporting by Ransdell Pierson)
Was there a mistake? I would expect to find the article on thepeoplescube, not AP. First off, how awfull would a doorman strike really be? People might have to call their own taxi's. Its simply unimaginable.
My second thought has more to do with geographical economics than anything else. A starting police officer, or an expiriences EMT, here makes less money than a NY doorman.