What you'll live without if 30,000 building staffers go on strike

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | March 27, 2014 - 9:59AM

In an exercise that rolls around every four years, building managers have started preparing for a possible city-wide strike by doormen, porters, handymen and supers. Exhibit A: the letter one Upper East Side rental management company sent to its residents recently (see above).

While officials from the union and the group that represents management--respectively, 32BJ and the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations--maintain that negotiations have been cordial and productive, the two sides haven't reached an agreement yet. (The existing contract was negotiated in 2010.)

If the two sides don't sign by April 21, some 30,000 building staff members may strike, affecting renters and condo and co-op owners alike. In other words, if the toilet overflows, you're on your own (unless, of course, your building negotiates a private, temporary agreement with the union).

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Service elevators will likely not be working, so don't plan to move in, move out, or get any furniture deliveries. Also, finding movers prepared to cross a picket line might be tricky. "In the worst case, there are the stairs and many moving companies are not made up of union members," says Roberta Axelrod, director of residential sales and marketing at Time Equities, who sits on numerous co-op boards as a sponsor's representative.
  • You'll likely have to reschedule your open house, since unauthorized people (including brokers) will not be able to go in and out of the buildings. 
  • Forgo FreshDirect, Seamless and Amazon unless you can receive deliveries yourself. Since doormen won't be working, package rooms and cold storage rooms may be unavailable as well. 
  • Since a security guard could replace the doorman, you may need to get a tenant ID card à la college dorms. (Residents of the Upper East Side building who received the letter above were told they'd be getting just-in-case ID cards in early April.)
  • Halt your renovation. Contractors and workmen are likely not going to be allowed in.
  • Get ready to lug your own garbage. Compactor rooms may be closed, which means tenants will have to haul their own trash and recyclables to street level.
  • Pitch in: your building may be asking for volunteers to help out with security, cleaning the hallways or organizing and distributing packages. Take one for the team!
  • Walk Fido yourself. Outside dogwalkers may not be let in your building, since they don't have the pre-approved ID,  and a noontime stroll with the doorman is definitely out.
  • Pay your entire rent as usual:  A strike alone does not a case for a rent abatement make.

Related posts:

Insider's guide to the de-doormanned life

Paying rent in a strike

'91 doorman strike not that bad

In case of strike, hold onto your gas cap

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