Written By: Anna Avruchevsky, Esq.
Local 32BJ strikes again! Local 32BJ union is planning yet another strike in New York City and if your Coop, Condo or property has a building service and is unionized, then there is a big chance, it is unionized with the largest private union in New York City – the Local 32BJ. The Local 32BJ is the largest building service union in the country and the largest private sector union in New York City.
Historically, there was one successful Local 32BJ Union strike in 1991. Since then, there were threatened strikes in 2006 and 2010 and now more recently scheduled, April 20, 2022. Whether the strike occurs in a few weeks is dependent upon whether the union and building owners come to an agreement before April 20, 2022.
Among other sticking points, the union, according to the union, is seeking an increase in pay scale in line with the rate of inflation. Building owners are seeking union members (building staff) to contribute to insurance as currently the cost of insurance is increasing and union members are not contributing. Building owners also seek to reduce 10 days of sick time down to seven and to shrink vacation days. Both sides have fair points, some of which are the lives lost and pains taken during COVID as well as the “painstaking” high prices of insurance costs.
Whether either side has merit is not at issue but rather how, if the strike occurs, will the strike affect tenants of unionized buildings is a matter we are seeking to address. Namely, the tenants will lose services such as doormen, porters, garbage disposal, elevator service, if applicable, and the inability to conduct renovations, whether in progress or not. The strike will also require building owners to hire temporary staff to replace the unionized staff for the time being. Some buildings will require tenants volunteer to take on roles such as doormen duties. Tenants will have to take out their own garbage and not to the recycle room on their floor but rather downstairs to the basement with all of the garbage that accumulates in the building.
A common question we are asked is “if this strike occurs, can we stop paying our common charges or maintenance?” The answer is no. In most, if not all, Coops and Condos in New York City, there is a provision which specially provides that regardless of services rendered or not rendered, the unit owners/shareholders must continue paying their monthly charges.
Another question is whether the unionized staff will be paid while on strike and the answer is no. Therefore, it is important to note, that both the union and building owners want to ensure that the strike does not occur.
We are crossing our fingers for a swift resolution, but in the event the strike does occur, please be prepared. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Klein Greco & Associates LLP for any questions related to this article, your building or any other matter. As always, we will be happy to provide you with a swift consultation to your rights as well as your restrictions.
Anna Avruchevsky, Esq. is a partner at Klein Greco & Associates LLP. She specializes in real estate transactions and in providing general counsel. She represents purchasers, sellers, landlords, tenants and Cooperative and Condominium Boards.