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Amy Traub

Your Doorman Is Not A Subway Token

The New York Times is asking the right questions:

Who will safeguard my apartment as I sleep? Greet my children when they come home from school? Accept deliveries? Clean the hallways? Sort the mail? Operate the elevator?

For more than a million New Yorkers who depend on doormen, superintendents, handymen, porters and other building service workers to make their co-ops, condos and apartments function, those worries are becoming more pressing. At midnight on Tuesday, the contract that covers 30,000 apartment building workers will expire, and workers are prepared to go on strike if they can’t negotiate wage increases that will enable them to keep up with the cost of living in New York.

Our local Fox News affiliate seems to suggest we could do without them. Despite the video clip describing building workers performing such essential services as filling medical prescriptions for apartment residents, the website opens their written report by announcing, without elaboration, that “a New York City staple may soon go the way of the transit token.” As if building employees were likely to permanently disappear as a result of the labor dispute, or could be replaced with anything approaching the effectiveness of a MetroCard.

That may be the Fox fantasy, but in the real world, our daily lives in New York and everywhere in the country rely on irreplaceable human beings doing their jobs successfully at every turn. Often it’s only when those working people have a strong union, like Local 32BJ representing building workers, that we’re forced to consider how well people that sustain our lives and maintain our quality of life can support their own families.

*** UPDATE: ***
I'm pleased to see that Fox has already changed the insulting language in their report. I have a screen shot of the original.

Amy Traub: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 12:32 PM, Apr 19, 2010 in Labor | New York
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