Residents of Co-Op City woke up to an unwelcome surprise this morning. Five hundred porters, handymen, maintenance workers, garbage attendants and groundskeepers lined up in protest outside of the small Baychester city.
The protest, set to start at 8 a.m., comes on the heels of the expiration of the unions labor contract early this morning. Negotiations between the two parties broke down last week when Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ requested a cost of living increase only to have RiverBay Corporation, the company that manages Co-Op city, propose a four-year wage freeze.
The union offered to extend the contract for a week while talks continue, but RiverBay officials rejected the suggestion, reports the Daily News.
"RiverBay's refusal to put realistic wage proposals on the table left us no other option than a strike," 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.