Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another Crisis Averted

Whew!  This was a close one!

 The owners of more than 3,200 apartment buildings in New York City reached an agreement on a new labor contract with the union that represents about 30,000 doormen, porters, janitors and building superintendents, averting a strike that was due to begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

I'm glad that cooler heads prevailed.  Think of the chaos!

The agreement headed off what would have been the first strike by the doormen since a walkout in 1991 that lasted 12 days and left garbage piling up in front of some buildings where doormen were picketing. If the doormen and other service workers had gone on strike, residents of the affected buildings would have had to perform their own chores, like sorting mail, screening visitors, hauling garbage out to the curb and operating elevators.

It's awesome that the door-dudes got a 10% raise when everyone else is scraping by, don't you think?  $44,000 for a non-skilled job?  Especially considering that biochemists start at $41,000, and architects start at $43,000?  Unions rock!   


  1. To be honest about this, not everyone else is "scraping by" in Manhattan. $44K won't get you a walk up cold water flat there. So some of this wage inflation is territorial. Next, doormen are not unskilled people, they are the multitaskers of the menial labor group, even if not accredited by degree, etc., their work is honorable, and without them the residential buildings are tenements.

    I seriously doubt there are any $40K+/- biochemists or architects living and working in Manhattan either. Back when I calculated the minimum I'd need to live there with any comfort at all it was $250K+ or more...and then I'd likely have lived on Roosevelt Island and commuted.

    Everything is relative, folks.

  2. Aridog, I should have said "many" people are scraping by, or "a lot of people". Many people living in Manhattan are working class folks.

    I wasn't picking on door-dudes, honestly. Anyone who supports themselves (so I don't have to) has earned my respect, whether they're digging ditches or flipping burgers or astronauts.

    If there's a special school that doormen attend to achieve the skills necessary to do their work, if they must attain certification or a degree to be hired, then I stand corrected. If they don't, I believe the gov't classifies them as "unskilled labor". Hey, I've done some (what I would consider) skilled jobs that were still classified as "unskilled" by the powers-that-be. It doesn't mean that the work isn't honorable, and necessary.

    What originally caught my eye was this: a ten percent raise, unless you work for Goldman Sachs, is UNUSUAL in the private work force these days, what with the money/job crunch.

    I have lived/worked in Manhattan. I earned considerably less than $250,000. I lived in the Village, my building did NOT have a doorman, and the apartment was small. For a quarter of a mil, I would've been stylin'!

    Yes, everything is relative, including comfort levels. :)

    P.S. - I wanted to move out to the Island and commute, but the rents there were astronomical! My brother-in-law lived in Danbury and commuted every day, but he was making the big bucks. :)

  3. I'd offer this in defense of the doormen: I've never lived in Manhattan, but I have visited many times and I have friends there... My understanding of Manhattan life is that the doorman is somewhat responsible for your safety on the one hand, and social fluidity on the other.

    They have to keep track of who is who, and who to let in, and who to hassle.

    In short, their paid for their good sense and judgment - gut feel. I don't know how that rates, but I'd rate it higher than "burger flipper".

    OTOH, I think doormen get some substantial income in the way of tips. Who knows; they don't report it... ;)

  4. Lady $250K figure was derived from what it would take to live in Manhattan with the same comforts I enjoy elsewhere...for a whole lot less money. Part of my "luxury" requirement would be a car, which in Manhattan can be onerously expensive...hell, it is even in downtown Chicago. In Detroit your biggest threat to a car is having it stolen...parking/garaging is still very moderate by comparison.

  5. Aridog, parking in Manhattan is ridiculously expensive! I chose to ride the subway and utilize taxis instead. For trips outside the city, I rented a vehicle.

    Lewy, doormen are definitely paid to keep people safe, and for their discretion. I would assume that residents would tip well for good service.

  6. Lady Red...your experience reflects what I learned from my fraternity brothers, in college, who were from NYC....most had never driven a car even at 18 to 21 years of age. I taught two of them to drive my Ford Falcon in fact...whether they ever got drivers licenses at home I don't know.

  7. When I lived in NYC I had my car, and always found a free spot. That was about 20 years ago though. I remember everyone was so convinced that one could not drive or park in NYC that they didn't even try - which left the way clear for ME! :OD