Concourse Village Maintenance Workers Threaten to Strike

By Patrick Wall on August 30, 2013 9:04am 

 Concourse Village maintenance workers, who are members of the property-services union 32BJ SEIU, held a rally on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 after voting to go on strike if a contract deal is not reached soon.
Concourse Village maintenance workers, who are members of the property-services union 32BJ SEIU, held a rally on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 after voting to go on strike if a contract deal is not reached soon.
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32BJ SEIU

CONCOURSE VILLAGE — Unionized maintenance workers at the Concourse Village apartment complex who have gone two years without a contract voted Thursday to go on strike if no agreement is reached by Saturday, when their health insurance plan expires.

The roughly 65 repair people and porters at the complex who are members of 32BJ SEIU, the nationwide property-services union, have been in negotiations with the Concourse Village co-op board since their last contact expired in 2011.

“They’ve left us no choice,” porter Laurence Canty said in a statement. “A strike will hurt, but so will living without health care.”

The workers, whose pay ranges from $11 to $18 per hour, have asked for a raise of 25 cents per hour, according to the union. Instead, the co-op board has insisted on a four-year wage freeze, the union said.

Messages left Thursday evening at the Concourse Village management office were not immediately returned.

The complex consists of six 100-unit apartment buildings just east of the Grand Concourse, between 158th and 156th streets.

The workers there have been covered by a multi-employer healthcare and pension plan run jointly by the employers and the union. But the law forbids workers from remaining in such plans for an extended period without a contract, the union said.

The Concourse Village workers will be ineligible for that plan’s coverage after Aug. 31.

The union contends that labor law requires the co-op board to provide the workers comparable insurance. The workers say that if no such plan is in place by Sept. 1, they may strike.

Meanwhile, the union has argued that the co-op board could be forced to pay a $1.3 million penalty if it withdraws from the pension plan and that any healthcare plan it finds on the open market will likely cost considerably more than the current one.

“The board claims the four-year wage freeze will save the residents money, but two long years of negotiations may end up costing them a lot more than giving the workers a new contract,” 32BJ SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Kyle Bragg said in a statement last month.

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