SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Universal Protection Service (UPS), the fourth-largest security contractor in the U.S., prepares to acquire rival national security provider Guardsmark LLC, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)'s Responsible Contracting Program announced a downgrade of UPS' status as a responsible security contractor in California. The downgrade comes after UPS security officers seeking to organize a union with SEIU United Service Workers West raised concerns—which continue to be unresolved—about low wages, wage theft and retaliation for speaking out.
With 2 million members working in property services, healthcare and public services, SEIU is the country's largest union of security officers. SEIU's Responsible Contractor Guide is used by property managers and real estate investors in the due diligence process.
In May, the largest pension fund in the U.S., the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), heard testimony from security officers regarding their concerns that UPS was not following responsible contracting practices in key California markets. Continuing concerns regarding the contractor's practices led SEIU to send notice of the July downgrade to relevant parties that own or manage UPS properties in the four California markets where UPS has been rated.
Silicon Valley security officer Dan Gretz, who started working for UPS after the company acquired his former employer, Silver Shield Security, was not surprised to hear that SEIU had put a watch on UPS in California. "In the first year of the transition to UPS, they cut my pay from $24 to $14 an hour," he said. "I decreased my expenses as much as I could, but it wasn't enough. I had to refinance my car twice. I added debt to credit cards. I just finished going through bankruptcy, and my fiancée and I can't afford to live together anymore."
SEIU's responsibility downgrade comes on the heels of B3 – Caa2 ratings by Moody's Investors Service, which considers portions of this investment to be "speculative," "high risk," and in "poor standing." Moody's estimates Universal's debt for all recent acquisitions will reach 7 times debt to EBITDA. Moody's states UPS' debt rating could be lowered even further if "… the company faces difficulty in integrating the Guardsmark acquisition, if operating margins weaken materially, or in the event of a loss of contracts with key customers."
Silicon Valley security officers working for UPS are attempting to improve their jobs by organizing a union. Officers have stepped forward with multiple claims of stolen wages, crowded living conditions, homes in disrepair, going years without a raise, and retaliation for speaking out.
SEIU's responsible contractor program aims to improve working conditions, lower worker turnover, improve training standards and improve security outcomes. See more at ResponsibleContractorGuide.org.
SOURCE Service Employees International Union