Updated 12/31/2011 05:02 PM
Tentative Contract Deal Will Prevent Building Cleaners Strike
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Union leaders for commercial building cleaners and the Realty Advisory Board reached a tentative four-year agreement late Friday night, preventing a 22,000-worker strike and providing employees with a gradual increase in wages.
“The new contract is not just an important victory for office cleaners and their families, but for our economy and our city,” said Hector Figueroa, Secretary-Treasurer of Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ.
Following weeks of tension, representatives from the RAB and union representatives resumed negotiations in Midtown earlier in the day. Without an agreement before Saturday's midnight deadline, thousands were prepared to strike.
The new agreement, which is subject to ratification by 32BJ and the RAB, provides a nearly 5.6 percent wage increase over four years—the life of the contract.
It will also provide bonuses of $1,100 and keeps fully employer-paid health benefits intact.
“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the union that protects workers’ wages and benefits, and provides crucial cost-savings to building owners, who have been battered in this deep recession,” said Howard Rothschild, president of the RAB.
On Thursday, the workers gained support from janitors from a dozen cities, including Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles, who signed petitions to honor picket lines should a strike spread to their cities.
A walkout in the city would have impacted the owners or contractors for office buildings in all five boroughs, including those for the Empire State Building and MetLife Headquarters.