By Anna Gustafson
Queens elected officials last week applauded Vantage, a real estate investment company that owns 88 residential buildings in the borough, for signing a three-year contract with the union representing the apartments’ superintendents.
Vantage Management Services, part of Vantage Properties, announced the deal with the union, Teamsters Local 808, that followed months of negotiations last week at an event attended by lawmakers, union officials and Vantage employees at Cafe Rubio in Flushing.
“Everyone is a winner in this agreement — Vantage, Local 808 and the thousands of residents who rely on their buildings’ workers every day,” City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) said at the June 15 event.
Vantage owns and operates nearly 10,000 apartment units, many of which are rent-regulated, in about 150 buildings throughout the city, including ones in Rego Park, Corona, Sunnyside and Elmhurst.
The company has faced pressure from elected officials, including state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, to change the way it does business. Vantage agreed in February to pay $1 million to compensate harassed tenants as part of a settlement with Cuomo. The settlement came after Cuomo said at the end of January that he planned to sue Vantage to stop it from forcing tenants from their homes in order to rent the apartments to individuals who could pay for more expensive, market-price units.
The new agreement with the union was not mandated in the deal with Cuomo.
The contract Vantage inked with the union takes effect retroactively from May 1 of this year through April 30, 2013, and will provide better health coverage for 86 superintendents, officials said.
“I am very pleased to know Vantage is recognizing its employees’ desires to have a unionized work force,” said Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). “It is a step in the right direction. I hope to work with Vantage in the future to improve its tenants’ lives.”
This is the second significant union agreement Vantage Management Services has announced in the last month. In May, Vantage reached an agreement with District 15, Local 447 of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO for a union agreement covering 1,933 apartments in 37 buildings in Washington Heights in Manhattan.
Osvaldo “Ozzie” Lo Verme, president of Local 808, also praised the deal.
“Agreeing on this union deal with Vantage Management Services is a critical example of how unions and prominent local businesses can partner together,” Lo Verme said.
Rey Camacho, director of real estate operations at Vantage, thanked Lo Verme for “working so hard” to reach the agreement.
“Once again we at Vantage are thrilled at the opportunity to show this commitment to our employees, who every day provide residents with the highest level of customer service,” Camacho said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.