Realty Advisory Board and Local 32BJ Reach New Labor Agreement
Averting a possible strike, SEIU 32BJ, the union representing residential building service workers in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, recently reached a labor agreement with the Realty Advisory Board, an association that negotiates collective bargaining agreements on behalf of owners and operators of real property with unions that represent their maintenance and operating employees. The deal covers more than 30,000 residential building service employees, including doormen, porters, handymen, and building superintendents, who work in more than 3,000 residential rentals, co-ops, and condos.
The negotiators came to an agreement nine days before the existing contract’s April 20 expiration. The agreement must be ratified by votes from 32BJ members and the full RAB board. Members of the 32BJ bargaining committee said in a statement that they plan to vote for ratification and are encouraging other members to follow suit. If ratified, the contract would continue a string of on-time agreements between the two parties. The last time 32BJ workers in the city went on strike was 1991.
In a statement, Howard Rothschild, president of the Realty Advisory Board, stated, “We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement well before the contract deadline. We have once again shown how labor and management can sit down and work together with a shared purpose and find common ground.”
The new four-year agreement includes an average annual wage increase of 2.71 percent or approximately 11.3 percent over the length of the contract. The deal also fully protects the generous benefits packages that 32BJ members receive, including full family health insurance covering medical, dental, optical, and prescription drug coverage, with no employee premium contribution, and a defined benefit pension fund and 401K annuity with an employer contribution.
Here’s a rundown of the terms of the agreement:
Agreement length. The agreement is effective as of April 21, 2014, and will expire on April 20, 2018.
New hire rate. “Other” employees that are newly hired in the industry may be paid 75 percent of the minimum hourly rate for the first 21 months of their employment and 85 percent of the minimum hourly rate for the second 21 months of their employment. This provision doesn’t raise the vacation relief rate, which remains at 60 percent of the regular hourly rate, or affect those employees who are already receiving the 80 percent wage rate.
Here’s the schedule of wage increases:
1) Effective April 21, 2014—$25.60 per week ($.64 per hour).
2) Effective April 21, 2015—$21.00 per week ($.525 per hour).
3) Effective April 21, 2016—$22.00 per week ($.55 per hour).
4) Effective April 21, 2017—$27.80 per week ($.695 per hour).
1) Effective April 21, 2014—$27.60 per week ($.69 per hour).
2) Effective April 21, 2015—$23.00 per week ($.575 per hour).
3) Effective April 21, 2016—$24.00 per week ($.60 per hour).
$) Effective April 21, 2017—$29.80 per week ($.745 per hour).
1) Effective April 21, 2014—$28.60 per week ($.715 per hour).
2) Effective April 21, 2015—$24.00 per week ($.60 per hour).
3) Effective April 21, 2016—$25.00 per week ($.625 per hour).
4) Effective April 21, 2017—$30.80 per week ($.77 per hour).
Fund contribution increases. There are five types of funds. This lists the contributions for each fund according to the terms of the agreement:
Effective Jan. 1, 2014—$15 per week
Effective Jan. 1, 2015—$15 per week
Effective Jan. 1, 2014—$4 per week
Effective Jan. 1, 2015—$4 per week
Effective Jan. 1, 2014—decrease if $3 per week ($43.60 per year)
Effective Jan. 1, 2015—increase of $3 per week ($199.60 per year)
Effective Jan. 1, 2016—no change ($199.60 per year)
Effective Jan. 1, 2017—no change ($199.60 per year)
No contribution change during the agreement. The bargaining parties agreed to offer additional scholarship. In addition, training classes will be added for identifying and preventing elder abuse and ensuring a respectful workplace.
Supplemental Retirement Savings Plan:
No contribution change during the agreement.
Additional information regarding health fund. Given the uncertainty of the implementation of the recently enacted healthcare legislation and future legislation, both parties agreed that there won’t be duplication of coverage.
The parties also agreed to continue the Health Study Committee to achieve a savings of at least $70 million annually in the expenses of the Health Fund and that these savings will constitute a permanent savings to the Health Fund, preserving a minimum reserve of six full months of benefit costs and operating expenses for the funds.
And the waiting period has been changed from three months to 90 days for regular employees to comply with federal healthcare legislation. Vacation relief employees aren’t entitled to health fund coverage for the first five months of employment.
Contribution cap. The parties agreed to have a maximum contribution for health and pension in calendar year 2016 of $20.80 per week and 2017 of $23.20 per week.
Sickness benefits. The parties agreed that the paid leave benefits in the collective bargaining agreement are comparable to or better than those provided in the New York City Earned Sick Time Act (NYC Admin. Code Sec. 20-911). The provisions of the act are therefore waived.
Reduction in force. The union committed to expeditious utilization of the reduction in force provision and to meet monthly to address staffing changes at buildings.
Security background checks. In the past employers had the right to perform a security background check on a new employee or when the status of the building or employee changed. In the new agreement employers will also have the option of performing a security background check on current employees if there’s reasonable cause.
Employers seeking to perform a security background check on a current employee may do so after written notice to the union and the employee, in which the location and time of the incident are revealed. The union may then object to the background check within five days, and if there remains an issue, there will be expedited arbitration.
In the event that the union doesn’t object, then the security check may be performed. Any information obtained in the security background check not directly related to the incident that gave rise to the check may not be used for any disciplinary action against the employee.
National Labor Relations Board. The contract allows for the deferral of unfair labor practices filed with the National Labor Relations Board to arbitration.
Committees. The parties agreed to create three new committees first convened after the 2012 Commercial Building Agreement. The Joint Advancement Project will concentrate on political issues from which the industry and union may derive common benefits. The New Development Committee will encourage real estate developers and the union to engage in special agreements that may modify wages, benefits, and work rules in newly constructed buildings to encourage responsible development. The parties will also continue the Veteran’s Transition Committee.
Superintendents and resident managers. In buildings with six or more employees, superintendents and resident managers fall under a contract that’s effective June 21, 2014. These employees will receive a weekly increase as specified in the superintendents section above.
Arbitration. Five additional arbitrators will be employed at the Office of the Contract Arbitrator.
Holidays. The agreement adds Veterans Day as an optional holiday. This won’t increase the number of paid holidays in the agreement.
Leave of absence. All leave time in the agreement will run concurrently with the Family and Medical Leave Act and city and state law, assuming these statutes are applicable. Employees on the job for more than two years, but less than five years won’t be entitled to up to 120 days of medical leave. Employees will also be entitled to up to four weeks of maternity or paternity leave. Note that the leave time in the collective bargaining agreement is unpaid.