For New York City Doormen, Some Closed Doors

(The New York TimesIt has been more than two decades since the city faced a large-scale strike by the doormen’s union. But this could change when its contract expires on April 20. 

I remember well the citywide strike in 1991. I was in high school at the time and unaware of a contract dispute until I returned home from school one day to find a beefy security guard standing at our front door in place of Dean, the doorman who had greeted me with a high-five and a smile for as long as I could remember.

Doormen often play a strange role in the city’s psyche. They are a continual presence in the lives of those who live in buildings that employ them: buzzing up friends, standing in the snow to hail a cab, entertaining a cranky toddler with a lollipop. They know intimate details of your life, but typically, you know little of theirs.

The doormen’s union remains ensconced in the prewar  co-ops along Park Avenue. 

Karsten Moran for The New York Times 

And some personal thoughts on the story...

This was a challenging column. I got the idea when I was out to dinner with a friend who is a union organizer, when he mentioned an upcoming march to boycott several buildings along the High Line that were using non-union doormen. 

I had already been at work on a column that focused on how Park Avenue coops were a value play, with some buyers purchasing Park Avenue coops because they were significantly cheaper than many new condominium developments sprouting up around the city. 

I was determined to combine these two ideas, despite a somewhat tenuous connection. It proved challenging in the writing.

Then, on Friday afternoon, roughly 24 hours after we had gone to press, word came that the doormen union had struck a deal for a new contract. This was a week BEFORE the old contract expired, a definite rarity.