Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union has been trying for years to unionize workers at developer/landlord AvalonBay's ten Manhattan properties, and Avalon is not into it. In the past, this type of feud might have resulted in the unleashing of a giant inflatable rat, but we're in the twenty-first century now, and the union has instead resorted to an even more entertaining tactic — making fun of the developers' buildings through viral videos. So far, they've produced one parodying rental building the AVA High Line's own cringe-worthy marketing campaign. And, quite frankly, it's great.
The video, created by Moore and Associates and starring comedian John Ennis, makes no mention of the union issues, focusing instead on mocking the forced millennial-y schtick of the original ad to the greatest possible extent. The original gives Ennis a lot to work with, and the whole thing leaves you with the impression that the union (or, at least, the production company they hired) has a better understanding of the AVA High Line's target demographic than AvalonBay does. "We have to meet the residents on their turf," Héctor J. Figueroa, the president of 32BJ, told the Times. "The way they exist in the world, it's online, it's on social media. So our tactics of outreach and building support have to live in that world, too."
Jon Vogel, a vice president for AvalonBay, told the Times that "our workers are nonunion, with different benefits, not worse benefits." Workers at AvalonBay properties earn around $12 an hour, while under union rules they would earn between $17 and $20 an hour.
Here's the original AVA High Line ad:
· Strategy by Union: Mock a Manhattan Apartment Building's Selling Points [NYT]
· Getting to know AVA H Street [Youtube]
· AVA in the Hood [Youtube]
· AvalonBay coverage [Curbed]