According to a press release from Building Service Workers Union 32BJ SEIU, doormen, concierges, and porters, along with representatives of the union and elected officials - including State Senator Brian Benjamin and Assembly Members Harvey Epstein and Jenifer Rajkumar - rallied on behalf of workers on Thursday, May 27 at a luxury condo at 432 West 52nd Street in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen. The gathering was convened to protest owners of million-dollar apartments receiving almost $200,000 in tax abatements while according to 32BJ SEIU, “Workers are struggling to survive on low wages and unaffordable health insurance.”
Workers, supporters and elected officials positioned in front of the luxury building carried signs and banners saying “Essential Workers Deserve Good Jobs” and “Fair Pay & Healthcare Now.” According to the union statement, “More than 2,000 doormen, concierge, porters and other building service workers at NYC luxury co-op and condo buildings that have received sizable tax abatements are struggling to support their families in jobs that offer low pay and no affordable healthcare.
“These workers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping building residents safe, even as they risked their own health in jobs that offered no affordable healthcare and often pay just slightly more than minimum wage.”
Those at the rally claim that’s the case at 432 West 52nd Street, where workers in the building make as little as $16.50 an hour. The average sales price for condos in the building is over $1 million. Since the building began receiving tax breaks in 2016, unit owners have received more than $198,000 in benefits.
Per the press release, “While the majority of building service workers in New York City are 32BJ members with family-sustaining pay and benefits, newer luxury condos are increasingly undermining the good job that has been standard in the industry.”
State Senator Brian Benjamin and Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa have introduced legislation in Albany that would attach a prevailing wage requirement to high-end buildings receiving a tax abatement. Building service workers are urging the legislature to pass the bill before the end of the legislative session on June 10th.