Viorel Pasku, a doorman with a building on Central Park West, works in front of his building 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)
Thousands of doormen, concierges and handymen could go on strike this week if their union and an industry association representing building owners fail to reach an agreement for a new four-year contract.
Union officials and building owners have been working round-the-clock to try and stop a possible walkout Wednesday morning.
The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations has distributed a preparedness manual with recommendations for keeping buildings in operation in case of a strike. “A strike is not pleasant, nor should it be taken lightly,” according to the 45-page document. “During a period of work stoppage, pressures and problems develop which make building management very difficult," The New York Times reported.
At stake are wages, health benefits, sick days and overtime rules. Doormen say they act as surrogate family members for thousands of New Yorkers, toting groceries, collecting packages and sometimes calling 911.
Some buildings have started to put together backup plans for trash hauling, package acceptance, security and even sweeping and vacuuming hallways.
Some doormen were skeptical that contract workers or volunteers would be able to pick up the work required to replace them. Salvador Gonzalez, a doorman at a building on the Upper East Side, said that as the deadline approached, he has even added a new responsibility to his usual assortment of tasks: giving inquiring residents tips on how to do his job, The Times said.