New Law Requires Large Condo, Co-Op Buildings to Pay Staff Prevailing Wages

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law on Monday a measure that will require luxury condo and co-op buildings of 30 units or more to pay their maintenance workers a prevailing wage. 

The legislation applies to buildings that receive the condo and co-op tax abatement, have at least 30 units, and a per-unit average assessed value (AAV) of $60,000 or more. Apartments that have an AAV of $60,000 typically sell for $800,000 to $1.2 million, according to union 32BJ SEIU

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SEIU, which represents roughly 30,000 building service workers in New York City, said that the new law would benefit 2,000 underpaid workers employed as doorpersons, cleaners and maintenance staff.  

This is a momentous day for building service workers and their families who will finally start earning family-sustaining wages,” 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg said in a statement. “These luxury apartment buildings can afford to pay workers the prevailing wage, and frontline essential building service workers who risked their lives to keep New Yorkers safe deserve good pay & benefits.”

The prevailing wage schedule on file with the New York City Comptroller’s Office starts residential cleaners, porters and doorpersons around $26 an hour with $13.78 per hour for benefits, and handypersons at $29 an hour with $13.71 an hour in benefits.

“There have been many days when I skipped meals just to save a little money,” said Chris Sanchez, a porter at a building on the West Side of Manhattan. “I haven’t seen a doctor in two years because my job doesn’t provide health care, and I can’t afford to pay for a health insurance plan. Earning the prevailing wage means I can provide for my family without sacrificing meals, and hopefully I can put some money aside to fulfill my dream of sending my son to college one day.”

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com.