SEIU President Andy Stern Joins Thousands of Security Officers as They Take to the Streets

Elected officials, community leaders call for higher standards in the

private security industry

May 08, 2008, 01:00 ET from SEIU Local 32BJ

    NEW YORK, May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of security
 officers, union members, labor, religious and community leaders and elected
 officials took to the streets of midtown Manhattan today, calling for
 higher standards in the private security industry. Long plagued by low
 wages, paltry benefits, uneven training and high turnover, the industry has
 come under scrutiny for its practices.
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     "We protect buildings worth billions of dollars, but are paid peanuts
 for our hard work," said Ivan Shelley, a non-union security officer who
 works at a Park Avenue commercial office building. "Even working overtime,
 I struggle to make ends meet and after nearly 15 years doing security work,
 I still don't have health care. We are standing up against this injustice
 and ready to fight for the respect we deserve."
     Today's rally highlighted Local 32BJ's campaign to bring together union
 and non-union officers to raise standards in the private security industry.
 Local 32BJ is bargaining contracts with the Realty Advisory Board (RAB),
 which represents owners and managers of commercial office buildings, as
 well as AlliedBarton and Securitas/Burns, major national security
 contractors. Together these contracts cover some 4,000 security officers.
 The union's proposals include wage increases, improved health insurance and
 enhanced training.
     In addition, the union continues its city-wide campaign to organize
 non-union security officers, who earn low wages and are not provided
 meaningful health benefits. Some non-union officers earn as little as $8 an
 hour, less than half the rate earned by 32BJ cleaners working in the same
     "For too long, security officers have been left behind as the owners of
 the Wall Street buildings they protect enjoy record profits," said SEIU
 President Andy Stern. "We need justice for all people who work hard to keep
 New York City safe and its economy strong."
     Over the past six months, security officers across the country,
 including Los Angeles, Seattle, the greater San Francisco area and
 Minneapolis, won new union contracts that raise wages and improve health
 care and other benefits. Most recently, Local 32BJ announced the first-ever
 union contracts for security officers in Washington, D.C. These historic
 agreements raise wage and benefit rates by 30% and provide employer-paid
 health care to full-time workers in D.C.
     "New York City's security officers deserve what officers in Washington,
 D.C. just won: the pay we need and the respect we deserve," said Michael
 Fishman, Local 32BJ SEIU President. "The time has come to significantly
 improve the wages, benefits and training for all security officers, who are
 on the front lines of keeping New York safe and secure. We will stand
 together until we win this fight."
     With more than 100,000 members in six states and Washington, D.C.,
 including 70,000 in the New York area, Local 32BJ is the largest property
 services union in the country. The union represents more than 6,000
 security officers.