NEW YORK - APRIL 19: Viorel Pasku, a doorman with a building on Central Park West, works in front of his building April 19, 2006 in New York City. Thousands of New York City doormen, porters and concierges have threatened to walk off the job April 21 if they cannot reach an agreement with building owners on healthcare and wage demands. If the strike occurs, it will affect about 28,000 workers and 3,500 buildings. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Authorities reached a deal early this morning to avoid a strike by the city's building workers.
The four year agreement calls for a ten-percent wage increase over the next four years for workers. In turn, the union agrees to 70 million dollars in annual health care savings. It would not mean changes in contribution to health plans by workers, but simply that the union would encourage efficiencies to save money.
"Through many days of hard work, the Realty Advisory Board and Local 32BJ have reached a fair and reasonable agreement that serves the industry, its workers, residents of more than 3,000 rental- co-op and condo apartment buildings, and the entire city of New York," said Howard Rothschild, President of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations.
The pension would remain the same for workers.
The wage increases would break down as follows: $15 a week in the first year of the contract, $15 a week in the second year, $22 a week in the third year and $23 a week in the fourth year.
The decision comes after extensive overnight negotiations between the Realty Advisory Board, a management organization, and Local 32BJ at the Sharaton New York hotel. The union represents 30,000 doormen, handymen and porters who authorized a strike.
If workers had walked off the jobs, it would have been the first residential building workers strike in NYC in 19 years. Negotiations in 2006, 2003, 1997 and 1994 all resulted in settlements at the bargaining table without labor unrest.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed the diplomatic negotiations that made the agreement possible.
The "agreement is great news for 30,000 service professionals, thousands of the city’s building owners, and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers that might have been affected by a strike," Bloomberg said in a statement. "In these difficult financial times we appreciate that both sides were able to work creatively to create real cost savings that could be translated into wage increases for hard working employees."
Managers at thousands of affected buildings in every borough except the Bronx, which is covered by a separate contract, had been preparing for residents to volunteer as temporary replacements at concierge desks, sorting mail and taking out garbage.
Building workers make about $40,000 a year, plus whatever they get in tips and holiday gifts from residents, which can add up to several thousand dollars.
"It's a victory for building owners, employees and residents. Given these difficult economic times, it is an agreement we can all be proud of. I want to thank the RAB and the Local 32BJ negotiating committees, the union leadership, and everyone involved for their hard work and commitment to the process," Rothschild told nbcnewyork.com.