September 25, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Scarsdale, NY—Hundreds of building workers with 32BJ SEIU marched here on Tuesday evening because the Building and Realty Institute wants concessions covering all aspects of a new collective bargaining agreement.
On the institute’s website they note in a labor bulletin that they submitted a proposal that calls for “revisions” to wages, pension, health insurance, the training and legal funds and holidays. They also want revisions to “processes involved with the union’s benefit fund offices, as well as the overall arbitration process.”
But 1,400 building workers are prepared to strike if a new a contract isn’t signed by the time the current contract expires on September 30.
In the accompanying video, Kyle Bragg, 32BJ’s secretary-treasurer, said that the revisions that the institute is demanding amounts to givebacks.
“We’re up here negotiating with the [institute] for a new contract. We’re asking to maintain our benefits and move forward on wages,” said Bragg. “They have their proposals, we have ours. I’m very confident we’ll have an agreement that will respect both of our positions that will allow this industry to continue to grow. They’re doing pretty good. The market is very good right now.”
Tony Castiglione works as a supervisor at the West Gate Park Condominiums in Yonkers. He’s been working there for 18 years and is a 32BJ member for 39 years. He said a strike would negatively impact him, his co-workers and the residents whom he works for.
“You know, the [residents] are like family to us. A strike is not going to be good for them or us. We have a lot of seniors and they all depend on us. It’s a very difficult position to be in,” said Castiglione.
Jayne DiSalvo works in a residential building in Scarsdale and is a 32BJ member since 1985. As a single mother, a strike wouldn’t be good either she said.
“It would have a very big impact. I’ll probably fall behind in a lot of my bills for some months. There’ll be a lot of catching up. No one recoups. Everyone just suffers from it.”
Numerous Westchester politicians joined the building workers to show support. Mike Spano, the mayor of Yonkers where many of the building workers work and live, said he hopes both sides reach an agreement before September 30.
“They need to stay at the table until they get it done. But it’s pretty clear by the crowd today that they’re willing to strike, but they don’t have to if they can get it done,” said Spano.