In April 2018, the collective bargaining agreement between the owners of New York apartment buildings and roughly 31,000 building service workers will expire. These contracts are negotiated every four years between the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (which represents the real estate owners) and the SEIU 32BJ union. There have been preliminary discussions regarding wages and benefits for those who work as doormen or women, building superintendents, managers, concierges, and porters. These individuals are employed throughout the five boroughs at buildings that include rentals, condominiums, and co-ops. Howard Rothschild, President of the Realty Advisory Board, was optimistic saying that this contract process, which has existed since the 1930s, typically goes well.
Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ, says that increases to pay and benefits should be deemed reasonable, as they reflect the gains within the real estate market since the last contract. There has not been a union strike now since 1991. Figueroa explains that the goal of the union is to maintain wages at a level that allows workers to live in the areas that they work and have the ability to approach a middle class lifestyle. Crain's New York reported that workers are estimated to have an average salary to be $49,000; however, the board claims the total compensation package equates to $85,000. Doormen and porters have a 401K plan and up to 49 days off with pay each year.
Doorman as a Profession
Doormen have existed in residential buildings in New York for roughly 150 years. There are approximately 3,200 buildings that employ the estimated 10,000 doormen throughout the city. The profession has historically been dominated by immigrants to the country. There are minimal educational requirements or prerequisites; however, these jobs can be difficult to find because turnover is very low. The New York Timesexplained that doormen enjoy stable, working class income which offers medical and dental care, vacation time, a pension, and tips. The contract is expected to increase wages by an estimated 10%.
Impact on Costs
The Wall Street Journal reported that doormen are considered a valuable amenity in a study. This study compared the financial implications between 100 upscale condos that had doormen, and 100 that did not. The buildings with doormen had a 65% higher cost per square foot. The study indicated that rental buildings in Manhattan that had doormen also showed a comparable price disparity.
Benefits for Residents
Doormen are valuable at many of the high-end buildings throughout the city where they will watch over apartments that are vacant much of the year. Many individuals who are looking for a residence will consult with doormen for their opinions about the building and to gain an understanding of what to expect. Shirley McKnight, a Manhattan resident, explained that the doorman's description of a building is very influential in her decision on whether to move in. She says that she would not have moved to her last apartment if she had not liked what the doorman told her about the environment.