9/27/07

150 unions in solidarity with S.F. security strikers

This week, security workers employed by companies including Securitas, ABM and United Protection Services, are taking historic action to protest their employers' use of intimidation, harassment and other unlawful means to keep them on low pay and without medical benefits.

The first strike by security guards in the San Francisco area, this action is part of a campaign by guards for respect in the workplace and greater opportunities for career development, as well as fair wages and health benefits. Security workers currently earn an average of $24,000 per year, which works out at $5 per hour less than cleaners in the city.

As in many other cities around the world, poor wages and conditions in the security industry drive high turnover and therefore discourage employers from investing in training and development for staff, making security a dead-end job in San Francisco.

SEIU, the union representing the guards, is calling on real estate giants such as Morgan Stanley, to address low standards for security guards in lease negotiations.

The strike is taking place in 14 buildings in the city's financial district, and is enjoying great support from many sectors of the community. 150 other unions in San Francisco, as well as the San Francisco Labor Council, are honouring the picket lines and strike sanctions, significantly disrupting the city's business community. The security workers also enjoy the support of clergy, congregations, elected leaders and community organizations, who were named in a full page advertisement in the San Francisco Business Times, calling for respect for security workers. Other security guards around the United States, in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Seattle have sent delegations to the offices of Morgan Stanley in their own cities to demand a response.

San Francisco's elected officials passed a resolution in defence of the workers' decision to call the strike and urging the security companies to “end their intimidating and coercive unfair labor practices" and calling "upon the building owners and managers to come to the bargaining table with the security companies for a single purpose: to improve industry standards by providing adequate training and increased wages and benefits for private security officers.”

San Francisco security officers are leading the largest national movement of African American workers since in the United States since the 1920s. There are more than 1 million private security officers in the country — private security is one of the top-ten fastest growing industries and is dominated by African American workers. If these workers receive just a USD1 increase in hourly wages, paid leave and family health care, across the country, almost a half billion dollars could be infused into some the US' most economically depressed neighborhoods, where most security officers live.

(union-network.org)

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