You have no idea how happy this makes me. Though I finally did get a building key. And I wouldn’t have to think about what I was going to write about for Courting.
Often after 11:30 PM the doorman isn’t at the door, and we would have to buzz to be let in. Usually there’s a valid reason such as going to the bathroom or taking a break, but once a doorman was downstairs on top of the washing machines with a woman. Have to admit hearing that story gave me two distinct reactions: one was to be totally grossed out, and the other was to wonder if the tops of the washers vibrated, and were all three washing machines in sync with each other?
The security camera wasn’t on for some reason, and nobody knew until he dumped the woman, a tenant. No, it wasn’t Fernando or any of the other doormen I have mentioned. I have spent more time than necessary trying to understand Fernando’s love life. The seven kids don’t all have the same mother.
Doorman’s wives do often have jobs as housekeepers here. “Housekeeper,” means cleaning woman anywhere else. Unless a resident really does have a five or more day a week cleaning person. Many people in the building, both men and women, do work from home, and sometimes while the wife is at work, the husband will play.
That’s all I can say without giving everything away about the building. I’m not too sure how many people know the above stories, and really don’t want to be the person who gives everything away. That sounded weird. I learn these things from coming in and out of the building at odd hours.
Also doormen do things like wash windows, install and take out air conditioners, and walk dogs. Nobody knows about Toto, my imaginary dog, though lately the ring of the phone prompts a dog somewhere to begin barking loudly and the barks do sound as if they come from here. People tend to think that I have gotten a dog, and when I tell them it’s only Toto, they begin to believe in my fantasy.
We actually have two doormen in the evenings and on weekends. Always makes me laugh because I could have been carrying packages for 30 blocks, but if the doormen sees you, he runs down the block to take your packages.
If there’s only one doorman, he runs from the doorman’s desk to get your packages, and if more than one resident at a time comes in, the doormen become very confused. Except if the person who comes in is elderly, and/or disabled, and they haven’t been really awful to the doormen; they do come first as they should.
One person who knows about doormen is Mrs. Mogul who I have known since she began her blog. Like me she’s originally from Queens, and spent the formative 20’s, in an almost too good address. While mine was in the 60’s off Fifth, hers was all the way across the East Side on Sutton Place. Then she met Mr. M, moved to London and Harrison was born in February. We had an instant rapport because we speak New York, and I figured out what high school she went to by reading two phrases “art” “east side.” My best friend, Lucia, also went there.
I forget if Mrs M knew Trine first or I did. Trine’s Norwegian and married to David who is English. They live in Brighton with their daughter Helene who was born at 25 weeks and is doing very very well. So well that Trine’s going for her PHD. She had more time before for blogging. And I thought blogging qualified one for a PHD.
Another of my very favorite bloggers who I have known since I began my blog is Ally who lives in that place the Beatles come from. Ally has a very old school English sense of humor and story telling knack, if old school British writers wrote while successfully hanging off a cliff. My personal favorite character is Polish lodger’s cousin’s girlfriend. Can’t even write that without laughing.
Like many New Yorkers, I can find it easier to go to Europe than to many places in the USA. However, in 1997, my mom began becoming increasingly more frail, and my sister and I both decided not to travel more than three hours by car away from home. My mom did want to go to London for Princess Diana’s funeral week. I had just come home from Point Pleasant, New Jersey and was studying like crazy for what turned out to be the easiest ten minutes of my life, my coop board meeting.
Yes people in New York do study and go crazy before meeting with the coop board. They can reject you for wearing the wrong colors. I still have the black pants suit with Caramel piping that exactly matched my hair color. Can’t remember what shoes I wore, am sure that they were expensive, and I took my dad’s attache case for luck.
People say that LA is all about surfaces and appearances. Personally I think that New York is probably more appearance based. We have less blonds so we don’t have the blond bimbo stereotype, but everything about a person’s appearance counts almost equally in New York.
In the early 80’s when Zachary was stalking me, I was job hunting. I looked a wreck and wasn’t offered one job though I was probably the best qualified candidate. However, friends from my old company were beginning a new one…and so I ended up with a better job than I should have expected. In 1987, I decided to look for a new job. All I had to do was wear my fuchsia suit to the second interview with the male boss….so yes I know a bit about the power of appearances in New York
I have included the New York Times article about the strike. Will spend the weekend putting my posts into categories and proofing them.
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: April 21, 2006
The union representing 28,000 doormen and other apartment-building workers in New York City reached a tentative four-year contract with building owners and managers early this morning, averting a strike threatened against 3,500 residential buildings.
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Dima Gavrysh for The New York Times
Michael Fishman, president of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, spoke yesterday, hours before the tentative deal.
It’s Pitching-In Time for Tenants as Looming Strike Forces Self-Help (April 20, 2006)
New York Building Workers Rally Against a Wage Freeze (April 19, 2006)
Strike Looms for Workers at Buildings (April 17, 2006)The deal calls for a raise of 8.5 percent over the four years for doormen, elevator operators, porters, handymen and superintendents at buildings in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.
Officials from the two sides said managementâ€™s negotiators had budged on their demand for a one-year wage freeze. But in a nod to management, the union agreed that the workers would not receive a raise until the second half of the contractâ€™s first year.
â€œWeâ€™ve achieved what we want to achieve in this agreement, though not everything we wanted,â€ said Michael Fishman, president of the doormenâ€™s union, Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. â€œWe made compromises, but we feel itâ€™s a good agreement for all of us.â€
The settlement, announced at 1:10 a.m. at the Sheraton New York hotel, where the negotiations took place, will prevent a walkout â€” and innumerable hassles â€” for more than one million apartment building residents. The strike deadline had been set for 12:01 a.m. today.
Over the past week, apartment dwellers threatened by a strike scrambled to make emergency preparations. Many hired security guards to watch the front door if their doormen walked out. In many buildings, volunteers signed up to lug garbage to the curb.
Under the deal, management would not require the workers to begin paying premiums for their health insurance, as it had first sought. But to help the industry control its fast-rising outlays for health insurance, the union, these officials said, had agreed to set caps on the building ownersâ€™ health outlays in the contractâ€™s third year and possibly the fourth year as well.
â€œThis agreement will serve both the employers and the employees and provide us with four years of stability,â€ said James F. Berg, president of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations the industryâ€™s chief negotiator. â€œThe industry was looking for an agreement that made sense.â€™â€™
Late yesterday afternoon, the two sides were showing little optimism, saying they were still far apart. But by 9 p.m., one industry official said definite progress was being made, with the two sides haggling over numbers.
Mr. Fishman expressed pride this morning that the unionâ€™s pension plan would not change. The building owners had originally called for switching the workersâ€™ traditional pension plans to 401(k) plans.
The deal is subject to ratification by the board of directors of the Realty Advisory Board, which is scheduled to meet this morning. In addition, the unionâ€™s members are to vote on the agreement over the next three weeks through a mail ballot.
For decades, the two sides have had three-year contracts. A four-year deal would give the industry more stability and would allow the unionâ€™s two halves â€” office-building workers and residential-building workers â€” to coordinate their bargaining more efficiently on issues like health coverage because their contracts will expire 8 months apart, instead of 20 months apart, as they long have.
As late as yesterday afternoon, the two sides remained at loggerheads over the two issues that had dominated the negotiations: wages and health insurance.
Managementâ€™s negotiators were insisting on a one-year wage freeze, but union leaders rejected that demand, saying the building-service workers could not accept that when they faced higher rents and food and fuel costs.
â€œYou canâ€™t live in this city and not have a wage increase,â€ Mr. Fishman said during a news conference yesterday afternoon.
But Mr. Berg asserted that a wage freeze was justified because building owners had spent $175 million 18 months ago to rescue the unionâ€™s health fund.
Moreover, the industry argued that the apartment-building workers should accept a wage freeze because the other half of their union, the 25,000 workers at Manhattan office buildings, accepted a one-year pay freeze in their contract talks 18 months ago. Those workers accepted their wage freeze in exchange for the bailout of the health fund.
Early this morning, each side claimed victory on the wage freeze issue. Management said it obtained a six-month wage freeze, while union officials asserted that the six-month delay in receiving a raise did not constitute a wage freeze.
â€œWe got a calendar wage increase ever year, and that was our goal,â€ Mr. Fishman said.
The deal calls for wage increases average $15.25 a week in each of the dealâ€™s four years. With the workers averaging $717.60 a week, the raises translate to 2.1 percent a year.
Those raises are below the inflation rate, but the dealâ€™s total increase in wages and benefits exceeds 4 percent a year, well above the inflation rate.
Mr. Fishman said the union agreed to accept wages lower than inflation because â€œItâ€™s important to fund good health benefits and pensions. Those are just as important as wages. If you donâ€™t have good health care, thatâ€™s money out of your pocket.â€
With the building owners paying $9,700 per year for health insurance for each worker, the industry at first demanded that the workers start paying part of their insurance premiums.
â€œAlmost all workers today â€” including ones who are paid much less â€” contribute something toward their health-insurance premiums,â€ Mr. Berg said.
Specifically, the industry called for Local 32BJâ€™s members to pay for 15 percent of their health insurance premiums.
But the union said that would amount to a 4 percent pay cut and that the workers could not possibly afford it.
The two sides said this round of negotiations was especially tough and contentious. Building owners said they needed a wage freeze because their profits were being squeezed by spiraling fuel prices, taxes and health costs.
But the union said it needed raises at least equaling inflation, convinced that the industry could afford them because of the cityâ€™s real estate market was booming.
Furthering tensions, each side was convinced that the other side had it good. The industry kept noting that the cityâ€™s building-service workers, who earn $37,300 a year on average, are the highest-paid in the nation. But many union members said their earnings were so modest that they felt like part of the working poor.
Union officials often asserted that the real estate owners were rolling in money because of rising rental and sales prices. But the industry kept insisting that it faced unusually hard time because so many of its costs were soaring.
The industryâ€™s negotiators said they were especially pleased that the contract provided for cost certainty, pointing to what they said were caps on increases in the industryâ€™s health outlays in the agreementâ€™s third and fourth years.
In a news release, Mr. Berg said, â€œBy achieving the goal of cost certainty , residential building owners were able to compromise with regard to a zero increase in the first year of the contract by freezing the wage increase until halfway into the year.â€
Under the deal, union officials said, building ownersâ€™ health outlays will rise form $9,700 per work this year to $12,700 per worker in 2009.
Mr. Fishman denied that there was a cap in the dealâ€™s fourth year, saying that there was a trigger that allows management to reopen negotiations if health insurance costs rise above a certain level in the fourth year.
Eric Rudin, co-chairman of the building ownersâ€™ bargaining committee, praised provisions in the deal that call for the two sides to continue their efforts to rein in health-care costs. Since 2004, the two sidesâ€™ efforts have held down health costs by nearly $90 million.
In a news release, Mr. Fishman boasted about the contract, saying, â€œThis $7.3 billion contract provides real gains for building-service workers when most working people in this country are seeing their living standards decline.â€