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Latest News - December 2011

December 1, 2011
NYC Office Workers March In Midtown After Vote To Strike


New York City office building cleaners filled the streets of Midtown Thursday after their bargaining committee authorized a potential strike.

Local 32BJ the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is pushing for a new contract that would increase wages and benefits. If the contract is not approved by January 1, more than 22,000 workers could go on their first strike since 1996.

Negotiations between the SEIU and the Realty Advisory Board (RAB) have stalled as they enter the third week.

"Our commercial building service workers are the highest paid in the country - and we are not asking to change that - but continued wage increases that ignore the grim economic realities facing our city and country can't continue," Howard Rothschild, President, Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, said in a written statement. "There has not been a strike in the commercial sector since 1996, and we are hopeful that this round of negotiations will continue the successful working relationship between the Realty Advisory Board and Local 32BJ."

Also at issue is the RAB proposal for a two-tiered wage system that would pay new workers less than older hires.

"A two-tier wage system would be a giant leap backward for all workers because it drives down wages and benefits for years to come," said Mike Fishman, President of 32BJ SEIU. "The industry's sole purpose in creating a second tier of workers is to replace the first tier with lower paid workers."

"At a time when the commercial real estate industry is returning to form, the men and women who keep office buildings clean should get what they need to support their families in the most expensive city in the country," said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. "Protecting good jobs will strengthen our struggling middle class and fuel the economy recovery we all need."

Local 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country, and has more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, DC, according to the union's website.



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