janitor2.jpgBuilding workers such as doormen, office cleaners, and janitors will probably not go on strike at the start of 2008 after their local union reached an agreement with Manhattan commercial property owners. Union members still have to vote to ratify the new four year contract, but the union leaders are recommending they do so.

NY1 described a jubilant scene with union members cheering upon the announcement of an agreement: "The $6.8 billion deal will give its 26,000 members a 16 percent pay increase over the life of the contract" And there's a 20% increase in health care benefits and a 40% increase to pension contributions. According to the Daily News, office cleaners will earn $22.65 an hour after the full 16% wage increase, compared to their current $19.50 an hour.

The union was prepared to strike because members felt that while the real estate boom was helping property owners, it was making it more difficult for the people who work in Manhattan buildings to live anywhere near them. The last-minute deal to avert a strike certainly went against the tide of labor relations over recent years. Transit workers stranded New Yorkers during 2005's holiday season by deciding to go on strike. Taxi workers went on strike twice to protest mandated GPS equipment. The lights went down on Broadway when theater owners and stagehands couldn't come to an agreement. Para-transit workers left the handicapped homebound when they went on strike this month. And even the voluntarily homebound have been affected by the Writers Guild strike that has relegated couch potatoes to repeat episodes of most shows.

(Untitled photo of a janitor, by occipital lobe at flickr)