New York, NY— Workers at 1711 Fulton, a residential building complex in Bedford-Stuyvesant that gets state assistance for affordable housing, today called on Vertices Holdings to restore the good jobs at the building after the new owner cut their pay by as much as 45 percent and eliminated health care and retirement benefits.
The workers were joined by supporters in front of Vertices’ headquarters in Brooklyn to urge the company to restore the pay and benefits that had made these good middle-class jobs for more than a decade.
“I went from $26 to $16 an hour,” said building superintendent Willie Hill, who has four children under 7 years old. “It’s a change of life. Now I’m just trying to survive. I don’t even know how I’m going to take my kids to the doctor if they’re sick.”
When Vertices bought the building on March 3, the nine workers were informed their pay would be cut by $10 an hour and that they would lose their health care and retirement benefits. The company refused to honor the workers’ union contract and the workers say they are subject to harassment and threats they’ll be fired because they want to keep 32BJ as their union.
Vertices Holdings Principal Abraham Hoffman is also the CEO of Bushburg Properties, which has been called “decidedly hip” by the Real Deal and has developments in Ridgewood, Downtown Brooklyn, Bushwick and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
In Bed-Stuy, the workers are feeling the pinch as the wage cut is forcing them to cut out everything but absolute necessities.
“My cable is off and I can’t pay the phone bill,” said porter Lamont Starkey. The father of two has seen his pay cut from $22 to $12 an hour and he said he is looking for another job to do at night. “You have to cut things out,” he said. “I’m sacrificing for the kids but I couldn’t even take them out for Easter this year.”
Right after the sale went through the workers at 1711 Fulton were informed by the new owners that the good jobs many of them had held for decades were being turned into low-wage work and that they no longer had any voice on the job. The nine workers, including the building’s superintendent, handymen and porters, are calling on new owner Vertices Holdings to restore the good jobs they have relied on to support their families and to treat their employees with respect.
The workers’ union 32BJ has filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board over Vertices’ refusal to bargain a contract for the workers and for harassing the workers because of their support of 32BJ as their union and bargaining representative.
“The treatment of these workers is unjust and inhumane,” said 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer Kyle Bragg. “Mr. Hoffman is making his mark in Brooklyn and we urge him to take a stand for good middle-class jobs for residential workers so that they can continue to live in the borough with their families.”
With more than 145,000 members, including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.
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