Tentative agreement averts strike by New York office cleaners

Story highlights

  • Without a contract, 22,000 workers planned to walk off the job
  • The tentative agreement offers a four-year contract with a 5.6% wage increase, the union said
The union representing some 22,000 commercial office cleaners in New York has reached a tentative agreement with the workers' employers, averting a strike set to begin just after the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day.
Local 32BJ -- which is part of the larger Service Employees International Union -- had said if no agreement was reached, its members would walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
The employer group that the union is negotiating with -- the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations -- confirmed the tentative agreement late Friday night, saying it was subject to approval by the board and the union.
The realty board said details of the new contract will be released once it is approved.
The union, in a news release, said the agreement provides for a nearly 5.6% wage increase over the life of the four-year contract as well as bonuses totaling $1,100. It also maintains employer-paid health care coverage.
"The new contract is not just an important victory for office cleaners and their families, but for our economy and our city," said Hector Figueroa, secretary-treasurer of 32BJ, in the statement.
"In these tough times, the workers who keep New York City's corporate offices and landmark buildings clean and well maintained have stood up for the good middle class jobs our economy and our city needs."
The cleaners at the center of the negotiation work in more than 1,500 office buildings in New York.
Local 32BJ bills itself as the largest private sector union in New York State and has more than 120,000 members nationwide.