Bronx maintenance workers to strike

March 20, 2008 4:11:45 AM PDT
Thousands of residents in the Bronx will wake up Thursday to find their maintenance workers on strike. Last-minute talks between the Service Employees International Union and landlords went into the night Wednesday, still in a deadlock.

The strike would affect 500 buildings and is set to begin at 7 a.m. Tenants would find themselves without workers to take out the garbage and maintain their buildings.

The workers want an increase in the minimum-wage rate under the contract, currently $10 an hour, as well as a pension increase.

The average hourly wage for building workers in other boroughs is $18.69, according to the union, but the average for Bronx workers is lower.

The union represents 4,000 Bronx workers, and talks with the Bronx Realty Advisory Board had a midnight deadline.

Bronx Realty Advisory Board President Michael Laub was optimistic about prospects for an agreement last week before last Friday's deadline, but his tone was less confident this week.

"I'll tell you the truth, we really are still very far apart," Laub told the Daily News. "This is the first time since I started handling these negotiations in 1992 that it's gotten to this point and I'm not as optimistic as I've been in the past."