2006-05-26 / Community

Tenants Turn Out To Support Strikers At Surfside Houses

By Howard Schwach

Striking workers and building tenants join on Shore Front Parkway and Beach 107 Street for a large rally on Saturday. Striking workers and building tenants join on Shore Front Parkway and Beach 107 Street for a large rally on Saturday. Hundreds of tenants of the three-building Surfside Houses (1 Beach 105 Street, 107-10 and 106-20 Shore Front Parkway) joined picketers last Saturday, May 20, for a rally in support of a two-week old strike by workers against Alma Realty and the building's owner, Steve Valiotis.

The union representing the workers says that Valiotis, who took over the troubled buildings three years ago, has refused to sign a union contract with his workers, preferring instead to offer them individual contracts with less vacation and health care benefits.

Three weeks ago, Valiotis cut off payment of the worker's health care benefits because all but two declined his offer of individual contracts.

Neither Valiotis nor any of his aides have commented to The Wave on the strike despite repeated telephone calls.

An elderly resident of the Surfside buildings displays his hope that the former workers will be brought back to work. It was clear by the sentiment of those at the rally that the majority of tenants support the union workers. An elderly resident of the Surfside buildings displays his hope that the former workers will be brought back to work. It was clear by the sentiment of those at the rally that the majority of tenants support the union workers. A large crowd supported the workers, who want a union contract and health care benefits. A large crowd supported the workers, who want a union contract and health care benefits. Congressman Meeks and his daughter listen as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer speaks to the crowd about the need for health care. Congressman Meeks and his daughter listen as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer speaks to the crowd about the need for health care. Democratic District Leader Geraldine M. Chapey, a resident and tenant leader, tells the crowd that the workers were the backbone of the buildings and urged the owner to settle and sign a fair contract. Democratic District Leader Geraldine M. Chapey, a resident and tenant leader, tells the crowd that the workers were the backbone of the buildings and urged the owner to settle and sign a fair contract. The large union "Rat" that traditionally graces strike rallies was absent from this one under a Labor Relations Board ruling that the giant rat is an unfair practice. This worker, however, found his way around the ban by wearing a small rat around his neck. The large union "Rat" that traditionally graces strike rallies was absent from this one under a Labor Relations Board ruling that the giant rat is an unfair practice. This worker, however, found his way around the ban by wearing a small rat around his neck. Barbara Buffalino, a tenant leader and the head of SHAFT, an organization that mounted a rent strike against a prior landlord, says that her group will be active in fighting against Valiotis and his realty company. Barbara Buffalino, a tenant leader and the head of SHAFT, an organization that mounted a rent strike against a prior landlord, says that her group will be active in fighting against Valiotis and his realty company. At times, the crowd got so large that it spread out onto Shore Front Parkway, threatening to stop traffic. A number of media outlets, including Channel 7 and Channel 1 News covered the demonstration. At times, the crowd got so large that it spread out onto Shore Front Parkway, threatening to stop traffic. A number of media outlets, including Channel 7 and Channel 1 News covered the demonstration.

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