07/20/2010 05:53 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Historic Unionization Agreements for our Superintendents and Porters

In the last few months Vantage Management Services, LLC has announced two groundbreaking agreements with labor unions representing superintendents and porters in small buildings throughout Upper Manhattan and Queens. While many large apartment buildings in New York City have unionized workers, smaller buildings traditionally have not been unionized.

The new agreements apply to 125 buildings ranging in size from 16 to 177 apartments -- 88 buildings in Queens ranging from 16 to 177 apartments, and 37 buildings in Washington Heights and Inwood ranging from 24 to 100 apartments.

In total, more than 6,000 Vantage apartments - homes to over 24,000 of our residents - are covered by the union agreements.

Negotiations about creating union agreements for these smaller buildings began last year with Local 808 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America in Queens and District 15, Local 447 of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO in Upper Manhattan. We finalized negotiations with these unions in May, with labor agreements that will span the next three years.

These union deals break new ground in the effort to create a climate of cooperation between building owners and the workers who ensure residents live in buildings that are safe, clean and in good repair.

Most important, these agreements demonstrate how landlords and employees can collaborate to reach mutually agreeable results. The union agreements initially cover 134 employees, 86 in Queens and 48 in Manhattan.

These agreements were achieved after many months of negotiation and compromise with Local 808's Osvaldo "Ozzie" Lo Verme and Local 447's Vincent Addeo, and celebrations were held at Cafe Rubio in Flushing and at 809 Bar & Grill in Washington Heights last month. At the Upper Manhattan event, Addeo said, "Reaching a 'first contract' with Vantage Management Services was a collective effort and a prime example of how unions and companies can achieve fairness for their workers when both sides have true respect for each other and for the quality job that their workers perform."

We've been very pleased with all the positive feedback we've heard from community leaders and elected officials, as well as from the union representatives involved in the process.

As Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, "Across this city hardworking men and women are fighting for fair treatment, and these agreements demonstrate how landlords and their employees can partner together effectively."

Vantage is committed to innovations in property management - which includes how we relate to our residents and our employees. We recently launched a one-of-a-kind blog where tenants can stay apprised of activities and building projects, and our 24-hour call center receives more than 100,000 calls a year.

While our primary concern involves our residents and employees, we hope this agreement sets a tone for the local communities as well by setting an example for how real estate companies and labor unions can lead together.

City Council Member Julissa Ferreras said, "After months of negotiation and good faith effort to reach an understanding, I'm very pleased to see how Vantage and Local 808 were able to achieve this significant unionization agreement."

So are we.