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Bill Radke: New York City is bracing for a possible strike by doormen at midnight tonight. They would like a raise, at the same time building owners are trying to cut their benefits. And as Marketplace's Jill Barshay reports, residents are caught in the middle.

Jill Barshay: Outside a posh coop building on Madison Avenue, a doorman is hailing a cab. He's one of 30,000 union members who could walk out tonight. If that happens, many New York residents will have bigger headaches than just having to flag their own taxis.

Dan Wurtzel: Basic services like the removal of garbage or using a compactor chute to throw garbage down is closed, and residents now have to start handling that themselves.

That's Dan Wurtzel. He's the president of Cooper Square Realty, the largest manager of apartment buildings in the city. He says the union threatening to strike covers not only doormen at fancy co-ops, but also janitors and handymen at ordinary apartment buildings. Wurtzel says package delivery, renovations, even installing a new dishwasher could ground to halt.

Wurtzel: Buildings sort of shut down.

Doormen typically make only $40,000 a year. But they get free health insurance and a full pension. Cirilo Grullon mans the door at a fancy Upper East Side co-op:

Cirilo Grullon: People think that doormen, you know, are living the high life. But it's not really true you know; we live check by check.

Apartment owners say each doorman costs $70,000 a year including benefits. If that cost goes up, New Yorkers may have to pay even higher rents and monthly maintenance fees.

I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.