NEW YORK – A sea of yellow and purple banners flowed along 6th Avenue from 41st Street to 48th Street in a show of solidarity and Local 32BJ strength on Dec. 14, as New York City building service workers demanded a good contract with the landlords who employ them. Their message was simple and direct: “We want a contract, now!”
Workers danced-marched along the route, carrying a variety of signs in Spanish and English, including “32BJ United for a Fair Contract” and “32BJ United Good Jobs, Strong Communities.” Beating drums, whistles and every other kind of noisemaker filled the air. Many called out “Union Power,” “They Say Cut Back; We Say Fight Back,” and “Occupy Wall Street.” Most wore purple stocking caps with the 32BJ insignia.
Especially as they waited for the march to begin, workers of many races, nationalities, and languages used the occasion to catch up with old friends and co-workers. Several brought their children to the march and rally; one little girl slept blissfully through the cacophony of the march.
A multitude of working families along the line of march enthusiastically greeted the marchers.
Among the speakers was Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, was being introduced.
Meanwhile, workers from Laborers’ Local 79 were doing an informational picketing at the Chelsea Hotel . They are protesting use of non-union demolition and asbestos removal workers by that building’s current owner, who has laid off 32BJ members as he intends to convert the hotel into condominiums.