A labor dispute is brewing at the West Village's Printing House.
Despite the fact that apartments at the recently overhauled luxury residential building are some of the most coveted in the Village, the building's workers and their supporters (including State Senator Brad Hoylman) are calling foul. In addition to being barred from unionizing, the workers make as little as $13 per hour and are unable to afford their healthcare packages. The lengthy report from The Villager details a list of alleged abuses, most of them leveled against developer Myles Horn and the building's condo board.
When one longtime porter, Kevin Samuel, lead the charge to unionization, Horn (who organized the Printing House's recent renovations and conversions) and the condo board took him and his fellow workers off the building's payroll. They placed them under the management of Planned Companies, a firm which "reportedly has a long history of union busting, and has threatened or intimidated workers in other buildings who have supported S.E.I.U. 32BJ — the city's building workers' union — according to violations issued by the National Labor Relations Board."
Samuel also relates his horror story of working nonstop for a full week to keep the building functional during Hurricane Sandy. Despite his hard work, he was not rewarded with the thousands of dollars of overtime pay he deserved; rather, he was given a choice between a week's vacation or $500.
According to the worker's supporters within the building, management is able to minimize the condos' common charges by keeping wages low, but according to 32BJ figures, putting the staff on union standard wages ($21 per hour, or, around $44,000 per year) would only increase common charges by around 20 percent. For a $2.1 million condo in the building, that number shakes out to a monthly increase of around $115, hardly an absurd expense for the wealthy residents of the Printing House.
Many longtime residents agree.
"On a dollars and cents basis, it seems entirely indefensible," said Frank Nervo, who has lived in the building since 1994. "And to keep the common charges that low just to help with sales, and to do it on the backs of working people, is just deplorable."
"I wouldn't be here without these workers," said Melissa Dent, another resident whose husband passed away last year. "They're my family, they're here for me. And it really makes me angry that they're selling apartments here for millions, but they're paying these guys horrible wages. I think it sucks."
· "Multimillion-dollar condos but underpaid building staff" [Villager]
· All Printing House coverage [Curbed]