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Bay Area Security Officers Get Ready to Strike

SEIU Local 24/7 Security officers' union members and supporters marched through San Francisco's Financial District Thursday rallying for fair wages and affordable healthcare.
Bay Area security officers are the lowest paid in the property services industry.
Photos by John Han

By John Han

September 8, 2007

The security officers' union SEIU Local 24/7 is scheduled to vote next week whether to give union negotiators authorization to call a strike against the private security industry.

The vote is scheduled for Saturday, September 15 and was announced Thursday during a rally held in the Financial District in San Francisco. Union members are calling for fair wages and affordable healthcare for Bay Area security officers.

Tim Paulson, Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council, said the council had voted unanimously to grant SEIU Local 24/7 strike sanctions.

San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson

The SEIU, Service Employees International Union, has 1.9 million members and represents 225,000 members in the building cleaning and security industries.

Bay Area security officers are the lowest paid workers in the building services industry.

Starting wage for a security guard in San Francisco is $11.30 per hour. Janitors receive $11.49 per hour. After two and a half years of experience a janitor will have accrued seniority based raises to $17.05 per hour while a security guard with equal experience remains at $11.85 per hour. SEIU members cited this as a "double standard".

Bay Area security officers and supporters rally in downtown San Francisco.

"A lot of officers have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet," said Keith Ward, a member of SEIU and security officer for over twenty-five years. "It's not enough money."

Ward said many officers work seven days a week working multiple jobs. He himself holds garage sales to earn extra income.

And after twenty-five years as an officer he said he still does not have health benefits. He uses the extra income he makes from garage sales as an emergency fund in case he ever needs to go the hospital.

Cheri Plummer, a full time security officer at ABM Security in Emeryville said security officers need higher wages and, "more benefits."

Plummer, a single mother, said her son is in need of surgery to remove a tumor that involves partial removal of the jawbone. But she can't afford it.

She said the company that she works for offers to pay twenty percent of monthly premium costs for health insurance while employees pay the remaining eighty percent.

"I can't afford my benefits so I don't even sign up for it," Plummer said whose total income is $1,800.00 per month.

Cheri Plummer, security guard and member of SEIU Local 24/7

"If they were to take money out of my check they would have to take one of my whole checks. And then what am I going to do for the rest of the month as far paying my rent, my PG&E, and my water and garbage? I have to buy food."

Members of SEIU Local 24/7 marched from the rally in downtown San Francisco, through the Financial District during the evening rush hour beating drums, blowing whistles, and shouting out chants.

Many came out to support the rally including Supervisor Chris Daly, Amos Brown from the NAACP, the African American Action Network, members from the Teamsters union, and a representative from Sen. Carol Migden's office.

They stopped at the San Francisco headquarters of Morgan Stanley and urged the company to stop the "double standards."

They cited that giant real estate companies like Morgan Stanley and Hines and Shorenstein, have agreed to compensate other SEIU workers such as window washers, parking attendants, and janitors with livable wages and healthcare.

They receive paid sick days and holidays, vacations, and pensions for retirement security.

Only private security officers, who are predominately African American, have been left behind.

Supervisor Chris Daly with son, Jack Daly, join workers in solidarity
of fair treatment and a living wage.





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