Progress Reported in Doormen Contract Talks

The threat of a strike that would leave one million City apartment residents without doormen services appears to be diminishing.  

Sources on both sides of the talks reported around 1 p.m. today that "significant progress" was being made on key issues. The sources say a dispute over wages remains the biggest issue of contention.

Conflicts over health and pension benefits are "nearly resolved," said one source.

The progress comes after extensive overnight negotiations at the Sharaton New York hotel, as a Tuesday midnight contract expiration approaches. Both the Realty Advisory Board, a management organization, and Local 32BJ have scheduled news conferences for Tuesday afternoon.

The union represents 30,000 doormen, handymen and porters who authorized a strike. If they walk off jobs, it would be 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.

Managers at thousands of affected buildings in every borough except The Bronx (which is covered by a separate contract) have been preparing for residents to volunteer as temporary replacements at concierge desks, sorting mail and taking out garbage.

"If there is a strike, our 120 buildings are ready," said Michael Berenson, president of Akam Associates, a management company.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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