NY: 32BJ Bronx workers strike avoided, union still negotiating.

UPDATE: (3/19/08) Bronx NY: SEIU 32/BJ walking off the job, 4,000 now on strike!

UPDATE To-> NY: Join 32BJ SEIU to support their bargaining demands of decent wage increases on March 5th. in the Bronx (3/4/08)

The press likes to make some noise when they have available staff to cover a story, but the contract for the 500 Bronx members of 32BJ in the Bronx has expired without a whisper of media coverage. It took me outreaching to the communications department of SEIU 32BJ to get to the bottom of whats going on.

According to Matt Nerzig, Director of Communications of Local 32BJ of the SEIU "No new contract or strike - not yet. Talks are set to resume next week.".

The workers plight was reported on at Joe's Union review, thanks to the E-Mail correspondence of the NYC Central Labor Council, and this past Tuesday in the NY Daily News:
Building workers' union contract talks at impasse
by Bill Egbert daily news staff writer 3-11-08
Members of Local 32BJ vote to strike at Bronx County Courthouse last week. Their contract expires at midnight Friday.
Members of Local 32BJ vote to strike at Bronx County Courthouse last week. Their contract expires at midnight Friday.

Residents in 500 Bronx buildings could find themselves taking out their own garbage and mopping their halls by the end of this week, as contract talks between owners and building workers head down to the wire. Nearly 4,000 building workers could walk off the job at midnight Friday, when their current contract expires.

Members of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union voted last week to authorize a strike if the Bronx Realty Advisory Board didn't make a deal by a new contract deadline. "They're worried," porter German Rochez said of residents in his north Bronx building, "asking who will take out the garbage and things like that.

"I tell them that we need their support for a good contract," said Rochez, 40. "They understand. They have jobs like us and face the same kind of thing."

Bronx building workers have long negotiated a separate contract from workers in the rest of the city, mainly because rents - and landlord income - tend to be lower in the borough, though Bronx property values are starting to catch up. Workers are seeking a hike in the minimum-wage rate, now $10 an hour, and a pension increase. The average hourly wage for building workers in other boroughs, according to the union, is $18.69.

The negotiations come at a time when the Bronx real estate market is booming.

According to Borough President Adolfo CarriĆ³n, Bronx property values have jumped 76% in the past four years, rents have increased 17% since 2005 and the Bronx has the lowest vacancy rate in the city. Local 32BJ Vice President Kyle Bragg said SEIU - which merged three years ago with the union that started the two-tiered wage system - is trying to close that gap, but he acknowledged that will be a long-term project.
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I wish the Bronx workers good luck, avoiding a strike is a good thing, negotiating a good contract with better living wages would be even better.

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