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Apartment Building Workers Approve Possible Strike Ahead of Contract Negotiations

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TWC News: Apartment Building Workers Approve Possible Strike Ahead of Contract Negotiations
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Residential building workers in four of the five boroughs authorized their union to go on strike Wednesday. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

More than 1,000 people marched from 73rd Street and Fifth Avenue to 83rd Street and Park Avenue.

The doormen, handymen, porters and building superintendents rallied, trying to demonstrate unity less than a week ahead of an expected contract offer from the realty advisory board. The current four-year contract expires on April 20.

"I think we need more money," said William Keaney, who said he makes about $20 an hour as an overnight doorman and porter on Sutton Place.

For 20 years, the position has paid to raise his family. Now, his children have three children. He worries about the cost of living.

"Just putting food on the table, because sometimes, it's tough with grandkids and everything," he said.

Union members work at 3,000-plus buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and on Staten Island.

Several elected leaders encouraged demonstrators as union members authorized their negotiators to use the threat of a strike as leverage in bargaining with the realty advisory board.

The last strike occurred in 1991, before Keaney's career began.

"Nobody wins with that, and I hope it doesn't happen, but I have faith in the union that it won't happen," he said.

The realty advisory board issued a statement that reads, in part, "... we are both committed to the same goal: reaching a fair contract that includes wage increases and protects the generous health and pension benefits that workers enjoy today."

The next bargaining session is set for April 8. At that time, the union expects a salary offer.

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