Six service workers in a Chelsea condo walked off the job Thursday on a 24-hour strike after the building owner canceled their health insurance in December without notice.

The move comes in the middle of a collective bargaining fight. The workers of the Jardim luxury condo building on 527 West 27th St. won a union election to join 32BJ SEIU with the NLRB on December 30, 2022 and have been bargaining for their first contract.

This week 32BJ SEIU filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of the workers. National labor law prohibits employers from withholding benefits or wages during a union organizing campaign. At the Jardim building, the employer allegedly canceled the workers’ benefits amidst contract negotiations. Without any notice, workers found themselves without access to health care benefits, and they remain without a contract. The building owner did not respond in time for publication.

“In the middle of bargaining they just took away our healthcare without telling us. We’re not going to let them treat us like that,” said daytime concierge Peter Polizzi, 66, in a statement. “I had a wrist surgery scheduled, but was called by the doctors office and informed I no longer had health insurance. That’s how I found out.”

Polizzi said that both he and his wife rely on his health insurance, and have been having to pay out of pocket ever since he realized that his benefits had been cut.

The union’s campaign at the building fits into a broader organizing strategy that has brough 2,614 new workers into the fold of its New York Metro Residential division. “Canceling workers’ health benefits in the middle of bargaining is a clear violation of collective bargaining rights,” said 32BJ Vice President Kevin Stavris, the director of the residential division. “The building board needs to immediately reinstate their health benefits.”

The building recently transitioned to an independent board from former sponsor Centaur Properties, according to the union, and receives the NYC Cooperative and Condominium Tax Abatement which requires ownership to follow the prevailing wage schedule set by the NYC comptroller.

Porter and handyman Adis Feratovic, 39, also had to go without medical treatment without his insurance, but he added that the experience has made him more set on fighting for a contract.

“I support my wife and three kids. It’s a struggle,” Feratovic said in a statement. “I chose to forgo the medical care because I just could not afford it. We demand they honor the bargaining process and our rights. We are united and ready to fight.”

32BJ members rally for building service workers.” The photo is by me.


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