Last Tuesday, workers at Courtlandt Corners (located at 161st and 162nd streets between Melrose and Courtlandt avenues) rallied with advocates and other union supporters protesting threats from management after voting to join 32BJ. Workers want a fair contract and for management to provide proper uniforms for cold and warm weather.
Courtlandt Corner workers’ actions come one day after porter and handymen at Phipps Houses went on strike.
“The managers are threatening us for standing up for ourselves and our families,” said striking worker Joel Morales in a statement. “We have the right to join a union, we have the right to demand a fair contract and we have the right to wear warm clothes when we work outside in the winter. These are basic rights and we just want our employer to respect them.”
The striking workers, 12 in total, are employed by Courtlandt Corners I Associates, LP; Courtlandt Corners II Associates, LP; and Courtlandt Crescent Associates. All three companies are affiliates of Phipps, the largest nonprofit housing developer in New York City.
Courtlandt Corner workers said their employers didn’t give them proper winter gear for outside work. Their uniforms are jackets and light shirts, and their employer insists that they wear them outside in the cold.
“We are proud to stand in solidarity with our union brothers as they fight back against threats and demand their rights,” said 32BJ President John Santos in a statement. “We are out here on the picket line with them because we know how important it is to fight for union rights here at Courtlandt Corners and everywhere in the Bronx, New York City and across the country.”
After Courtlandt workers voted to form a union, they sat down and negotiated for their first contract with management. Supervisors eventually told them that they were bringing in a new manager to discipline and fire them for joining the union. The union filed unfair labor practice charges against the companies with the National Labor Relations Board.
At the rally, an elected official joined the workers on the picket lines in a show of solidarity.
“In the Bronx, we have always fought and will continue to fight for the rights of working men and women,” stated New York City Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “Our community is built on a respect for work, and today we are taking a stand to say that we will not allow for our friends and neighbors to be disrespected.”