It may be a couple of months away, April 20th to be exact, but rumblings can already be heard from the hallways to the lobby.
Local 32BJ’s contract with the Realty Advisory Board (RAB) is up, and that can only mean one thing: A possible strike by building staff.
If it happens, here is how residents’ lives will change:
- UPS may decide not cross the strike line—all packages will go to the nearest UPS office.
- Residents will have to wait for their food deliveries in the lobby because there will be no one to buzz upstairs.
- Drycleaning drop offs would probably cease because there will be nowhere to store the clothes: All package closets are locked down.
- Supers will still be on the property because they have a different contract than porters and doormen, and they will handle emergency things such as a broken boiler. But they won’t pick up garbage from any floors, and the compactor room may be locked up.
- Residents will have to drag their garbage to the curb for pick-up by sanitation. And sanitation workers may respect the strike and do only do one pick-up for the entire week. That’s an awful lot of junk piling up on the sidewalks.
It seems that every four years this tug of war is played with Local 32BJ and the RAB, while we, the workers, are on the front lines dealing with residents until told to do otherwise.
It’s the literal and ultimate price we pay: Around sixty plus dollars every month for benefits and to go through the process of preparing for a possible strike every four years.
Although it is still too early to detail the full list of demands on both sides, it is safe to say the union will ask for more money, and that in a changed economy, those who ultimately pay our salaries may have something else in mind.
The real issue to me is not a raise, even though it would be nice. It is more for the uncomfortable feeling that myself and other workers will undoubtedly go through with residents as the clock continues to tick, getting closer towards the mentioned date.
I am lucky and thankful the last building workers strike was in 1991, one that lasted twelve days I might add. I was totally oblivious to it because I hadn’t been employed as a doorman yet. But having talked to other workers who were there, it wasn’t fun.
Even one day of standing outside my building wearing a huge sign rallying behind the union is not my cup of tea. Practically two weeks of that would be a total nightmare.
Now for the most part, none of us workers want to strike. We would love to continue to do our jobs and go about business as usual rather than pace back and forth in front of our building in plain clothes as residents and everyone else look at us, maybe even shaking their heads in disapproval.
And yet…to be totally honest…I have to admit I wouldn’t mind a very short strike, like for just a couple of hours.
I wouldn’t mind seeing the confusion and displeasure of some who may be lost without their regular guys at the door.
Or to watch the residents, who have volunteered to help not just their neighbors who really do need help, but also others who are just used to a certain type of service.
Just for a couple of hours, that’s all.
BrickUnderground 2010 Strike Coverage
Don't look for me on the picket line