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Bronx Building Workers Vote to Strike

By Eddie Small | March 11, 2015 6:17pm
 Members of the SEIU voted to authorize a strike if necessary during a March 10 rally.
Bronx Apartment Workers Rally
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CONCOURSE — Hundreds of Bronx doormen, superintendents and porters voted to strike Tuesday if their demands for higher wages were not met by this weekend.

Members of 32BJ, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union — which represents about 70,000 apartment building workers and the like throughout New York City — gathered in the rain after the vote at Bronx Borough Hall to demand that their employer, the Bronx Realty Advisory Board, give them higher wages by March 14.

Hourly wages in The Bronx currently range from about $12.25 to $22, with most members closer to the lower end of the spectrum, according to Kyle Bragg, secretary-treasurer of the union. He would not provide specifics about how large of an increase members were looking for.

Pedro Soto, a 49-year-old handyman in The Bronx, said that higher wages crucial as the cost of living in the borough continues to goes up. He was not excited about the idea of a strike but said he did not have a problem with the idea.

"Times are tough here in The Bronx now, and it's time for us to catch up to that so we'll be able to feed our families and vacation and save money," Soto said.

The BRAB declined to comment.

Workers were decked in yellow ponchos with the union logo on them and held signs in English and Spanish with messages like "Fair Contract Now" and "Standing Up for Working Families."

Several local politicians attended the rally to show support for the union, including Congressman Jose SerranoCouncilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Bragg said he was hopeful that a strike would not be necessary but cautioned that the most important period for bargaining was still ahead of them.

"Up until now, we have been negotiating — and the employers have been negotiating — I believe now in good faith to this point," he said. "But the crucial hours are in front of us as we approach the deadline."