Cockroaches And Cold Weather — IAPE At 80

Remembering Key People And Events In Our Union's History

As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of IAPE, we'll take an occasional look back at key moments in our Union's history. Follow along with our #IAPEat80 series here.

Today: that time when IAPE members in a historic Manhattan building battled cockroaches and cold weather, until management agreed to move SmartMoney to a smarter location.


From the IAPE Newsletter, May 2001

SmartMoney, Not-So-Smart Location

The Starrett-Lehigh Building, 2001 home to SmartMoney offices and giant cockroaches

A grievance filed by IAPE on behalf of SmartMoney employees has gotten national attention by a write-up in The New York Times.

The employees working in the Manhattan offices of the Starrett-Lehigh building, along with other tenants, are faced with working in an seemingly dilapidated 1930s industrial building which touts such glamorous, prewar amenities like wide-open spaces, Hudson River views, and substandard heating, cooling, and ventilation. Also, the employees are bothered by a giant-cockroach infestation, a lack of adequate elevators, and a remote, inconvenient location.

The IAPE-represented employees aren't the only tenants complaining, either. Even the city buildings and safety officials have cited the owners for some of the problems, according to the New York Times article.

In December, the SmartMoney steward, Larry Carrel, contacted the union. A visit by IAPE president Ron Chen was scheduled in January. Chen filed a grievance alleging unsafe working conditions the very same day of the visit.

The roughly two dozen IAPE members represented by Carrel, including IT professionals and reporters, realize that even highly respected and compensated employees still need the protection that a union can provide them.

The building owners are reportedly trying to fix the building's problems; and after the grievance was filed, and Dow Jones does have existing leased office space in downtown Manhattan, but that office would need to be prepared for the SmartMoney employees to be able to work from there.

In the meantime, according to Chen, "We are monitoring what goes on, and hope situation has been resolved. So the grievance is still active, but tabled for now."