Lessons in diplomacy from RAB, service workers union

By Steven Spinola, president
Real Estate Board of New York

With residential contract negotiations underway between SEIU 32BJ and the real estate industry’s negotiating arm, the Realty Advisory Board, the atmosphere would appear ripe for conflict and general animosity between the two parties involved.

Far from it, the positive and productive tone of negotiations is a mark of pride not only for REBNY, but for the real estate industry as a whole.

As the business world evolves, so too must the people who comprise it, and the relationship between RAB and 32BJ is a prime example of that evolution.

Together, 32BJ and the real estate industry have created over 60,000 jobs throughout New York City, ranging from superintendent positions to building maintenance workers, concierges, and porters.
These are good jobs that come with health insurance, paid vacation, retirement savings plans and other important benefits.

These jobs are vital in keeping the wheels of our city turning, and it is through the relationship between these two organizations that they remain not only filled, but the individuals filling them properly compensated and trained for their services.

Since its founding in 1934, 32BJ has grown to be the largest property service workers union in the United States, and today represents more than 120,000 members. We are proud to say that thousands of those members are part of our REBNY family.

Were it not for the professionalism and hard work of 32BJ’s members, our buildings would not be able to live up the standards we hold ourselves to and that we hope the public has come to expect from us. These workers are the ones who benefit from and contribute to the real estate economy in New York, which I firmly believe to be the most important part of New York City’s economy.

As with any relationship, in order to be prosperous and beneficial to all parties, they must come to a balance between themselves.

The Realty Advisory Board has done an exemplary job forming a relationship with 32BJ based on respect and common interests, from protecting members from having to pay healthcare premiums when the healthcare fund was dangerously low, to keeping employees compensated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The results of positive relationships such as these are evident in both tangible and abstract ways, and most of them are things we take for granted every day. Safe and clean buildings with functioning elevators and other accessories are just some of the visible effects.

In terms of intangible results, REBNY’s recent report, “The Invisible Engine: The Economic Impact of New York City’s Real Estate Industry,” explores the enormous amount of tax revenue and jobs generated by the real estate industry. Too often, we don’t recognize the impact an office building or hotel has on funding the city services that contribute to the quality of life in our city.

In fact, the real estate industry generates enough tax revenue to pay the city’s share of salaries for every single police officer, school teacher and firefighter and still have more than $2 billion left over to fund things like public parks and libraries. The full report can be found on our website, rebny.com.

As with any good-faith negotiation there are bound to be some tough days, but I sincerely wish both sides will continue the positive tenor of contract talks and stay on the path to compromise.

We look forward to a fair and equitable contract and our long-term partnership with the hard-working members of 32BJ.
 
In other REBNY News:

  • On April 1, The Members’ Luncheon will take place at the Grand Ballroom of The Hilton New York, located at 1335 Avenue of the Americas. Refreshments will be served from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and the Program will be from 12:20 p.m. to 2 p.m. To register contact Desiree Jones at djones@rebny.com.
  • On April 4, Brooklyn Residential Seminar “Running Your Business From Apps: Essential Tools for Today’s Agent” will be held at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. The seminar is free for Residential Members. Registration is required and available through the REBNY events calendar at rebny.com.
  • On April 9, we are starting a seminar series: “Legal Line LIVE!” with REBNY Broker Counsel Neil Garfinkel. This seminar will take place quarterly. The seminars are open to Residential Principals and Managers. RSVP to adonovan@rebny.com.
  • On May 29, REBNY is holding its 11th Annual Commercial Management Leadership Breakfast at the Hilton NY in the Grand Ballroom. Coffee will be served from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and the program will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. For more information contact Cindy Ramotar at cramotar@rebny.com.
  • On June 10, the winners of the Retail Committee Retail Deal of the Year 2013 Awards will be announced at a cocktail party hosted by the Retail Committee on Tuesday. You are invited to review your New York City retail transactions completed in 2013 and submit any that you consider a likely candidate for the Retail Deal of the Year Award. There will be two awards in total, and the deadline date is at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 10.