December 29, 2015
By John Banks
New York, NY – The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB) has announced that it had reached a tentative four-year labor agreement with SEIU Local 32BJ, the union representing the commercial building service workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
The agreement — which was reached 13 days ahead of the deadline — covers more than 23,000 operators, porters, lobby attendants, and some security professionals in over 1,200 commercial properties.
The tentative agreement, subject to ratification by both the union membership and the RAB board, includes an average wage increase of 2.69 percent each year over the four year contract, and will bring total wages for a typical office cleaner from approximately $49,760 to $55,324 – a 10.75 percent overall increase. It also includes a renewed commitment by each side to collaboratively find additional cost savings and efficiencies to continue keeping health care costs down. Once ratified, the contract will extend until December 31, 2019.
This labor agreement, in addition to Local 32BJ’s growing workforce in solid middle-class jobs, will ensure that New York City’s real estate industry remains healthy, the importance of which cannot be overstated – when the real estate industry is healthy, it is a vital resource for New York City’s economy that cannot easily be replaced. Last year, annual taxes from the real estate industry generated $16.4 billion, or 41 percent of all of the City’s taxes collected. This $16.4 billion is an increase of 6% from 2013, and the 41% share of total City taxes is 3 percentage points higher than the 2013 figures as well.
The new contract agreement is another example of how the real estate industry, through revenue-generating properties throughout the five boroughs, continues to help make New York City a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Agreements like the one between the RAB and Local 32BJ are instrumental in keeping the wheels of the City turning.
I applaud the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations and Local 32BJ SEIU for their commitment to strengthening the real estate industry by reaching an agreement that is practical and based on sound economics.
I want to particularly commend Howard Rothschild, president of the Realty Advisory Board, Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ, and the members of both negotiating teams for once again modeling a successful labor-management relationship and reaching an agreement that fairly compensates workers and protects their benefits an impressive 13 days before the contracts expire.
The Real Estate Board of New York is proud to represent the New York industry in providing first-rate, union jobs that provide workers with quality wages and benefits.
I greatly appreciate the work of all 32BJ employees, including the 23,000 commercial building service workers who work tirelessly to maintain our industry.
*** John H. Banks III is President of the Real Estate Board of New York