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Deal with owners averts strike by New York doormen

NEW YORK: Uniformed doormen and apartment building workers reached a deal with New York building owners on Wednesday (April 21), narrowly averting a strike that would have left residents running elevators, disposing of trash and doing other chores themselves.

Some 30,000 unionized doormen, superintendents, handymen, concierges and porters had threatened to walk off the job just after midnight on Wednesday in a contract dispute with the owners of 3,222 New York City buildings.

The new contract with building owners contains a 10% raise over the next four years and fully paid employer healthcare with no givebacks on benefits, union president Mike Fishman said.

"We feel it's a very fair agreement, it's good for the industry, it's good for the workers," Fishman told journalists.

The agreement is "fair and reasonable", said Howard Rotschild, president of the Realty Advisory Board of Labor Relations, which represents building owners.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the agreement. "In these difficult financial times we appreciate that both sides were able to work creatively to create real cost savings that could be translated into wage increases for hard working employees," Bloomberg said in a statement.

Building owners had argued this week that given economic uncertainty, workers should accept cuts. They said that at US$70,000 (RM223,398) a year, New York building workers are among the best paid in the US.

A pledge to cut US$70 million in healthcare costs by the union allowed for a deal to be reached, both sides said.

New York City building workers are represented by a local affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Doormen's duties range from staffing security posts and hailing cabs, monitoring visitors and accepting deliveries, holding doors and watching resident children and pets.

The tradition of uniformed doormen, typically a sign of affluence, has survived in New York, where many residents are willing to pay hefty monthly sums for their services. – Reuters

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