Bill De Blasio’s Lifeline Should Doormen Bolt

Doorman-building dwellers, take comfort—in 311. 

Earlier this week, we reported on the various ways that owners of tony doorman buildings are letting their residents know about the possibility of a building workers’ strike; the contract between the workers’ union, Local 32BJ, and the Realty Advisory Board expires on April 20, and the workers, including doorman, will strike  if contract negotiations can’t be resolved beforehand.

Now, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is getting in on the action: His office announced Thursday that it has launched an assistance Web page and hotline for those affected by the strike.

Mr. de Blasio is known for being tough on landlords; his 2009 campaign included a “slumlord watch list” to which tenants citywide were encouraged to contribute. Apparently, Park Avenue landlords are worthy of more considerate treatment: The new site is intended as much for building owners as for residents and is titled “Tenant, Condo, and Co-Op Owner Resources.”

“We wanted something that really rolls off the tongue,” Mr. de Blasio’s spokesperson, Matt Wing, said jokingly of the page’s clunky title. (Later, he asked if it would be all right if he just used an acronym.)  The resources in question deal with basic condo and co-op concerns: what to do in the cases of heat, power, or hot water loss, pest infestation, or garbage pileup. The primary answer, in all cases, is to call 311. (They’re still really trying to make that happen!)

The site also reminds tenants and owners of their fundamental legal rights to heat and hot water, infestation-free living, clean buildings, and sufficient electricity. “I think when you look at the experience of the past—in 1991, when you had garbage piling up—regardless of which side we’re on, we wanted… to be prepared and to have resources ready,” Mr. Wing said of the public advocate’s motivation for creating the assistance page. But the 1991 strike was only 12 days long. Could a bit of hyperbole have crept into the city’s collective memory of how life-threatening that garbage pileup was?

Mr. Wing said that he did not know. In 1991, he was living in a Brooklyn brownstone with his parents and was busy attending the first grade.

Bill De Blasio’s Lifeline Should Doormen Bolt