Thousands of 32BJ SEIU members on Wednesday authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike if the current contract for doormen and other residential workers expires on April 20. The union is in the middle of negotiations with landlords of thousands of buildings across the city, with their next bargaining session scheduled for Thursday.

In an interview with NY1, union president Kyle Bragg said the members he leads are essential workers who helped other New Yorkers stay safe and live comfortably during the pandemic.

“They allowed people to work remotely from home, keeping them safe within their homes, their work compounding by all the things that this pandemic has brought,” including taking on more deliveries and cleaning responsibilities, Bragg said. “We remain hopeful that we’ll be able to get a contract that both honors that and represents their ability to stay, remain, and work in this city.”

Bragg said the union wants a fair contract that preserves existing benefits while increasing wages to account for inflation.

At an Upper East Side rally on Park Avenue Wednesday, Bragg called for a strike vote in a fiery speech.

“We want to make sure when we return to the table that we know that we have the power to make sure that they give us the contract that we've earned and deserved,” Bragg shouted.

Gov. Kathy Hochul also spoke at the rally, two days after the union endorsed her gubernatorial campaign.

“Who showed up every single day? You showed up. You had our backs,” Hochul said. “They call you essential workers. That sounds nice, but if they’re that essential, why don’t we pay them what they deserve?”

In a statement provided to NY1, Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations President Howard Rothschild said the strike authorization vote "happens every four years and does not mean a strike will occur." 

The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations is the coalition of landlords negotiating with 32BJ.

"It simply allows 32BJ the option to strike, should we be unable to reach an agreement. The RAB has proposed fair and reasonable wage increases, as well as the sharing of healthcare costs through employee contributions to the premiums, of which employees currently pay zero," Rothschild said. "Our relationship with the union has resulted in more than 30 years of uninterrupted labor peace and we continue to work towards that same goal this year."