SEIU targets GE

Playing off General Electric’s corporate advertising jingle, security officers united in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and writers of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) joined forces to march and rally Wednesday evening, December 12, to “bring G.E.’s bad things to light.” General Electric is emerging as a key outlier in contract talks for both the security officers and writers.

Protestors carrying flashlights marched along Wilshire Blvd in Westwood during busy rush-hour traffic and held a rally across the street from the World Savings Center headquarters of G.E.-owned Arden Realty.

“General Electric is refusing to support the efforts of security officers to win a union contract that could bring in $50 million a year into the economically challenged communities of South Los Angeles,” said Rev. Eric P. Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Convention (SCLC) Los Angeles Chapter. “By standing in the way of the union contract for security officers, General Electric is not only obstructing justice, the company is devaluing the contributions private security officers make to public safety.” Rev. Lee is a leader of the Stand for Security Coalition of community, elected leaders, clergy, and congregations united in support of low-wage security officers’ effort to win a union contract.

According to the Security Officers Union, the $50 million figure is an estimate based on what security officers would earn if corporate real estate giants like General Electric agreed to compensate contract security workers as they do union janitors. Nearly 70% of Los Angeles security officers are African American and live in South Los Angeles.

“G.E. could make a lot of holiday wishes come true for our families if it does the right thing and supports workers,” said security officer John Wilson. “Both security officers and WGA writers are committed to win strong contracts before the holidays, so it makes sense to be supporting each other.”

General Electric’s Arden Realty is one of the few real estate corporations to not yet call on their private security providers to settle a contract for Los Angeles security officers with higher wages and family health care as soon as possible. Blackstone, Jamison Properties, Maguire Properties, Beacon, RREEF, and other major building owners have sent letters to their security contractors urging them to complete negotiations of a fair contract before the holidays. The security officer contract will be the first contract of its kind in Southern California.

G.E. also figures into the ongoing strike of the Writers Guild of America against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). General Electric owns NBC/Universal, a member of the AMPTP. Striking writers, most of whom earn middle class wages, are seeking a fair share of the entertainment industry’s success. The AMPTP has prolonged the strike by walking out of negotiations twice, prompting many to believe that they never intended to negotiate seriously in the first place.

SEIU security officers in San Francisco and Oakland ratified their new contract today; including a 27% increase in wages and for the first time, access to quality, affordable family healthcare. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is calling the SEIU Local 24/7 contract a model for other U.S. cities to follow.


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