11/30/2011 04:09 pm ET

Cleaners In New York Office Buildings To Vote On Strike

NEW YORK (AP) - The union that represents cleaning staff at more than 1,500 New York City office buildings will vote Thursday on whether to authorize a strike.

The current contract for more than 20,000 office cleaners represented by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union expires Dec. 31. The union will vote on whether to authorize its bargaining committee to call a strike at buildings including Rockefeller Center, the Time Warner Center and the Empire State Building.

The union says it will not accept management's proposal for a two-tier wage structure that would pay new hires less than existing workers.

The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents management, says New York City's building workers are the highest paid in the country.

The realty board says that the workers earn an average salary of $47,107 and that the total annual cost per employee including benefits is $76,721.

The board is advising building owners to prepare for a possible strike by making necessary repairs now, as repair workers may honor picket lines.

The board is advising building owners to arrange for fuel deliveries before the strike deadline and to make arrangements for security guards.

The last office cleaners' strike in New York City was in 1996.