Members of 32BJ service workers union showed up en masse on May 3 to once again try to win the support of Community Board 2 members in a long fought battle to allow workers at a luxury Long Island City condo to unionize. The matter was tabled for the second time.
TF Cornerstone owns buildings in Manhattan and Queens and is developing seven condos on the waterfront in Long Island City on a 21-acre parcel on Center Boulevard.
The buildings’ janitors, doormen and security guards are not permitted by the company to unionize, said 32BJ representatives. Although TF Cornerstone offers a competitive hourly salary, the union and some workers who have spoken out against the company say they want better benefits.
As members of 32BJ, after paying monthly fees, workers would receive a pension after at least 25 years of work and access to a bevy of free classes ranging from carpentry to fire safety. Classes and a pension are not offered at TF Cornerstone’s nonunionized buildings.
As the board did on April 12, it again decided to table whether it would send a letter of support for the workers to TF Cornerstone. The board wants more information, which echoes their request from April 12. A letter from TF Cornerstone arrived in the board’s inbox on Thursday morning and the members panel received additional information from the union upon entering the meeting.
Board Chairman Joseph Conley said this was not enough time.
The board and TF Cornerstone would not forward the letter.
Several union board members spoke during the public comment section.
“When they make a good living they support the community,” Vice President of 32BJ Lenore Friedlaender said.
“I don’t want to remain a porter forever. I would like to take free classes at the union,” Danny Carranza, who works at the TF Cornerstone building in Manhattan, said at the meeting Thursday.
Bill Evan, who lives in a condo on Center Boulevard, spoke in support of unionizing the building.
After each comment there were 32BJ chants and clapping in support, which prompted Chairman Patrick O’Brien to say; “We might be able to hear your silence more than your cheering and move this along.”
32BJ Organizing Coordinator Joe Eisman was fairly heated by the end of meeting. He spoke more than his allotted three minutes, but refused to stop talking at Conley’s request.
The board spoke out on both sides of the issue; nevertheless, only three voted against tabling the vote.
“We’re being asked to advocate for an individual private dispute,” said O’Brien. “I don’t think this is an appropriate thing for the board to vote on.”
“This [good benefits] is what we want in our community,” said board member Kate Brennan, who wanted to vote in favor of support on Thursday.