It has been nearly two decades since New Yorkers faced their last doorman strike, but as the deadline for a new contract for building workers approached, the questions being posed throughout the city remained largely unchanged on Sunday.
Residents, co-op boards and building management companies have been busy planning for the sudden complications that could come at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday with the possible departure of the building workers who, among many other things, hold open the city’s doors.
The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations has distributed a preparedness manual with recommendations for keeping buildings in operation in case of a strike. “A strike is not pleasant, nor should it be taken lightly,” according to the 45-page document. “During a period of work stoppage, pressures and problems develop which make building management very difficult.”
Throughout the city, security guards have already been alerted to arrive at buildings an hour before the negotiating deadline so they can take over for the first overnight shift in the event of a walkout. Many buildings would then adopt a more restrictive policy, with residents being required to use building keys, display identification to the security guards and pick up visitors or deliveries themselves. Some buildings are planning to take service elevators, storage rooms and garages out of operation if there is a strike.
Many buildings have also posted sign-up sheets for residents to volunteer to watch the front doors, clean hallways and take out garbage, though the forms in the lobbies of a handful of Upper East Side buildings remained mostly blank on Sunday afternoon.
The 30,000 residential doormen, porters, superintendents, elevator operators and handymen now earn an average of $40,500 a year, with benefits raising the total to nearly $70,000, according to the Realty Advisory Board, which represents building owners. The workers are seeking wage increases, while building owners are pushing to reduce benefit costs.
(Read More: NY Times / YWN-112)