Union workers at the Flatbush Gardens apartment complex in East Flatbush rallied last Wednesday against a management plan to slash their wages by nearly 35 percent.
The workers at the complex, which is near Foster and New York avenues, have been toiling without a contract since April 20, and both sides remain far apart in the negotiations.
The union wants a wage hike and a continuation of the current benefit package, while the management wants to cut the $17-$21 hourly wages by $5 per hour, require an employee contribution to health care, and possibly trim pension contributions for the 70 workers, who voted last month to give their union leadership the OK to call for a strike if negotiations break down.
“[The management plan] would decimate the workers’ families and the community — where most of these workers live,” said Kyle Bragg, vice president of the building workers union, 32BJ, an arm of the powerful Service Employees International Union. “They’re trying to find a way to cut costs, and it’s always the workers they go to first.”
Owners of the buildings complex, with its 2,500 rental units, declined to comment, but a spokesman did say that Renaissance Equity Holdings is “negotiating in good faith.”
Union officials disagreed, and said that the salary cut would slash wages by 34 percent, cutting salaries from the current range of $35,360 to $43,680 to $24,960 to $33,280 — plus a cut in health benefits that would require workers to contribute roughly $100 a month for coverage.
“The word ‘fair’ doesn’t exist for them,” said Brian Miller, a porter at the complex.
The 56-building rent-stabilized housing complex is spread out over several blocks — and many residents are standing behind the workers.
“If you cut my wage from $10 to $5,” said one resident “I’m going to give you a $5 job.”
Other residents, like Tony Brown, said the complex wasn’t well maintained in the first place.
“It’s bad enough here,” he said. “If they cut their salaries, it’s only going to get worse.”
It’s not the first time tenants have complained about management at the complex. Residents claimed that the previous ownership did not perform some maintenance in hopes of getting tenants to move out so that the rents could be raised on the vacated apartments.