- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Members of the union representing thousands of doormen, porters and other New York City building workers rallied for a wage increase and voted to authorize a strike if talks with building owners break down.

Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union brought members to the streets of Manhattan’s Upper East Side for the evening gathering. Other union members joined as well, with the sizeable crowd carrying signs saying “We Make New York Home” and “Good Jobs, Strong Communities.”

“We all work hard, we deserve to be treated fairly,” said Michael Dawson, 48, who works in security at a residential building in Queens. “We shouldn’t be struggling in the richest city.”

The contract for 30,000 apartment building workers expires April 20. The union has been negotiating with the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, with another session planned for next week.

In a statement, board president Howard Rothschild said, “Negotiations with the union are going extremely well so far because we are both committed to the same goal: reaching a fair contract that includes wage increases and protects the generous health and pension benefits that workers enjoy today.”

Wednesday’s strike authorization vote allows Local 32BJ’s bargaining committee to call a strike if negotiations break down.

Elected officials, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Comptroller Scott Stringer, joined labor leaders for the gathering on Park Avenue.

The march went by several buildings with doormen, some of whom smiled approvingly, like David Roth, who was standing outside 920 Park Avenue.

“If I wasn’t working, I’d be marching,” he said.