Trash Piles Up at Co-op City

Living wage request met with four-year wage freeze

Thursday, Jun 3, 2010  |  Updated 5:26 PM EDT
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About 60,000 New Yorkers living in the nation's largest cooperative housing complex are carrying out their own trash -- more than 40 tons of it daily -- on the third day of a labor dispute.

Building workers at Co-op City in the Bronx are picketing the massive high-rise community, saying management is not offering them adequate health care.

Heaps of garbage wrapped in plastic bags was piled near the buildings Thursday.  The New York City health department will pay a visit this afternoon.

Residents must bring their trash downstairs instead of using the trash chutes that lead to now-locked compactor units.

General manager Vernon Cooper said the 500 unionized Co-op City workers walked out of negotiations and are on strike.

The union says it's a lockout. About 200 management employees are running the buildings.

"RiverBay's refusal to put realistic wage proposals on the table left us no other option" said Kyle Bragg, vice president of Local 32BJ.

The complex was built in 1971 and has 15,000 apartments in a network of 35 high-rise buildings and townhouses. The strike comes at a time when Co-Op city is still trying to keep up with demands from the Department of Buildings.

The department is requiring balconies to be inspected and repaired throughout the complex after a 24-year-old Manhattan man fell to his death on a shoddy balcony on Mar. 14.

The Co-op City workers earn on average $40,000 a year and their health care benefits are fully paid by the employer. The work stoppage would affect 55,000 New Yorkers.
 

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