On Friday, September 17, Governor Kathy Hochul joined porters, doormen and other building service workers at Columbus Circle in Manhattan to celebrate a new law that will raise wages to the industry standard for over 2,000 frontline workers.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymember Carmen de la Rosa (AD-72, Inwood), and Building Service Workers Union SEIU 32BJ President Kyle Bragg were on hand as well, along with a number of 32BJ members. 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country, with 175,000 members in 11 states and Washington, DC, including 85,000 in New York.
The new law requires that large luxury co-op and condo buildings receiving the Cooperative & Condominium Tax Abatement pay their building service workers the prevailing wage. Under the new law, affected workers - many of whom currently make around minimum wage - will receive robust healthcare benefits and see their wage rate rise to $26.45 per hour or more, the rates received by the more than 35,000 porters, supers and doormen who are 32BJ members.
"Building service workers made tremendous sacrifices on the pandemic frontlines to keep this city safe during its darkest moments, and they deserve fair wages and benefits for themselves and their families,” said Hochul.
“32BJ members have fought hard for decades to ensure that building service jobs are good jobs that benefit the community, and workers in these luxury buildings were left behind for far too long,” said Bragg. “We thank Governor Kathy Hochul, as well as Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin and Assemblymember Carmen de la Rosa, for championing this important legislation.”
Benjamin and de la Rosa sponsored the bill, S.6350/A.7434, in the state legislature. Benjamin was sworn in as New York’s Lieutenant Governor earlier this month.
“Workers’ families should also benefit when large luxury apartment buildings receive tax abatements,” said Benjamin. “These essential workers, like many others, deserve fair wages and benefits, and to be treated with respect.”
De la Rosa echoed the sentiment, adding that “Tax abatements and other benefits received by large luxury apartment buildings should not be used to undermine the industry standard.”
32BJ members have been campaigning to pass S.6350/A.7434 for three years in an effort to bring parity for building service workers who were left behind in an industry that is known for good paying jobs and benefits.
“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it feels as if you’re living your whole life just to pay the bills,” said Edil Martes, a porter at a condominium in Manhattan. “Finally making the prevailing wage in New York City will give me and my family some breathing room. Having affordable healthcare will allow me to see the doctor to make sure I am in good health.”
The new prevailing wage requirement applies to high-end buildings with 30 or more units and a per unit average assessed value (AAV) ranging from $60,000 to $100,000, and all buildings with an AAV above $100,000. The average sale price for buildings with this AAV range from $800,000 to $1,200,000 or more.