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Service employees ask tenants for support.

As the negotiation deadline neared, the Service Employees Union appealed to New Yorkers and tenants to take their side against the building owners who, they claim, made "vast windfall profits" by refinancing their debt structure and "using the proceeds for their own personal benefit."

The union made their emotionallycharged plea in the form of print ads. In the diatribes, Gus Bevona, president of Local 32B-32J, states that "as long as both sides approach the negotiations reasonably, rationally and in an atmosphere mutual respect -- we could reach a fair and equitable agreement." And if, he goes on, "God forbid -- a strike is inevitable," he asks the tenants to continue supporting the union."

While the union, representing 30,000 workers in 900 commercial buildings, has not had a strike in 45 years, many owners are in dire straits and see the results of the union negotiations as a way of controlling some of their destiny.

Discussions between the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations and the Local representing commercial building workers adjourned at 4 a.m. Monday morning with an understanding they would talk for at least another two days.

The new strike deadline is 7 a.m. today.

"The fact is that we've agreed to keep on talking and that's a good sign," said RAB spokesperson Jim Grossman. "By Wednesday morning we should know."

The economics and the work rules remained the central issues, said Grossman.

'There is still the issue of the building owners managing their own work force,' he noted. For instance, when tenants vacate buildings, the owners want to be able to reduce the work force and reassign work.

An offer has been made by the RAB based on a three-year contract. "It is as good as the city offered its civilian workers and we think it is actually a little better than the 1.5 percent the city has offered its employees over 42 months," Grossman said.

Joseph Mancini, a spokesperson for the union, explained that the building owners want to increase the number of square footage the workers have to clean.

"They feel they are overworked already,' he said.

All workers on the same job received the same amount of money and that has made no sense to building owners who would like to see new workers receive less.

"The building owners want to decrease starting salaries to such a low rate that it would affect everybody," Mancini said.

He explained that once a building worker moves from one building to another he would be considered a new hire and subject to the starting salary.

Additionally, the owners want to reduce workforces without input from the union, Mancini added.

"Those are the give-backs the union is most upset about, ' Mancini explained. "The union, of course, is demanding an increase in salary but they haven't even gotten to that point yet."

A letter from Bevona and printed as an advertisement in city newspapers states, '...the landlords' hard-line negotiating committee is pushing our backs to the walls..."

In another "open letter to Mayor Dinkins and our Fellow New Yorkers," Bevona goes on to say, "...the real estate Barons are taking a short-signed nd callous approach...'

He discusses reports saying the real estate industry is absorbing its space and says that employers "are demanding that every building, even the most profitable, be treated as if it were on the verge of foreclosure."

He finally asks for tenants helps and implores them to tell owners and managing agents "to treat the members of this union fairly."
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Title Annotation:Service Employees Union ask New York, New York tenants to support their stand in contract negotiations with building owners
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 6, 1993
Words:586
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