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Building workers reach agreement.

Building workers from Local 32BJ (SEIU) announced that they have ratified a Long Island-wide agreement that will significantly raise wages and increase benefits for 600 union workers.

"This contract was accomplished because, despite tough negotiations, people of good will on both sides wanted it to happen," said Local 32BJ president Mike Fishman whose 70,000 strong union represents 1,000 commercial and residential cleaners, porters and superintendents in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Fishman added that the contract was particularly significant because it raised wages and benefits for hundreds of workers, while keeping Long Island competitive in the tri-state, suburban office market.

Members of the union's rank and file, who overwhelmingly approved the contract, echoed Fishman's analysis. "This is a great contract and a major victory for the union," said Horacio Anchissi, a member of the 32BJ bargaining committee. "The wage rates and wage increases the new contract provides will help us get closer to New York City wages."

Robert Bertuglia Jr. of LARO, a major office-cleaning contractor agreed that the contract was fair to both sides.

"I am delighted that this deal is finalized, and we can give our workers the wages and benefits they need to live in this economy," Bertuglia said. "I hope most of the large building owners will join us in that enthusiasm."

Fishman outlined the key improvements agreed to in the three-year pact:

* Wage increases will rise from as little as $6 per hour to $9.75 hourly by 2004;

* Paid vacation, sick and personal days;

* Job Security for in-place workers if a union company takes over a building;

* Establishes a legal services fund that provides free legal services for immigration and other civil cases;

* Establishes a training fund to teach workers the English language, computer skills, GED prep and other vocational classes.

"This contract is another example of how by organizing and bargaining hard, workers can improve their lives and earn their piece of the American dream, "Fishman said.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Apr 17, 2002
Words:325
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