Why were Eggers and his peers on the precipice of strike? While negotiating 32BJ’s new contract, the Realty Advisory Board asserted regressive new proposals: slashing several sick days and vacation days from their current total and requiring workers to pay into their healthcare premiums for the first time.
To Eggers, that offer suggested that doormen weren’t worth a raise or their current protections, and took “sheer audacity” after the workforce showed up to work and risked their lives throughout the pandemic. “Our union this year is 90 years old, and we are never going to take a step backwards.”
Cutting benefits and maintaining stagnant wages would be particularly egregious in the nation’s most unequal major city, where rents have surged 33 percent in the last year.
During the pandemic, essential workers continued servicing the city’s richest, insulated neighborhoods, particularly the Upper East Side. As of 2019, the neighborhood’s mean household income was $322,432, the highest in the city, whose overall median is just shy of $70,000.
Today, the median cost of a 1 bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side is $3,795 (up 52 percent from last year), amounting to well over half of a union door attendant’s monthly income, even including the new contract’s pay increases.