CT security guards working at state buildings will strike saying they’re entitled to pension plans www.privateofficer.com
The 40 workers at SOS Security say they are entitled to a traditional pension under the state’s contract with SOS — a claim the state is investigating.
The workers voted Wednesday to authorize a strike, about nine months after they told the company they had chosen to join Service Employees International Union.
The workers would like the company to recognize the union as their bargaining representative,” said Kurt Westby, director of the Connecticut district of SEIU Local 32BJ.
He said the company ignored the guards’ announcement of a strike authorization vote. But Westby said the company’s refusal to recognize SEIU was not the motivation behind the vote Wednesday night.
“Their main issue right now is their lack of pension contributions,” he said.
The state’s contract with SOS Security requires the company to give workers a traditional pension, SEIU says.
The state Department of Administrative Services would not confirm that, but spokesman Jeff Beckham said the workers asked the department to review whether SOS is living up to its contract terms. He said the group has given the department information “we take seriously.”
He said the review began in February, “and when that’s done, we’ll have more to say.” He had no estimate for when the review would be complete.
While the pension is the major issue, SEIU said the company’s response to the union organizing further angered the workers. After they signed union cards, “the intimidation really took hold,” Westby said.
An SOS Security spokesman in New Jersey, where the company is based, declined to comment.
Part of the issue is whether the action would be a so-called recognition strike, a walkout designed to convince. a company to bargain with the union collectively. Jonathan Kreisberg, National Labor Relations Board regional director for Hartford, said in that instance, a strike must be limited to 30 days — after that, the employer has free rein to fire strikers.
Eugenio Villasante, a spokesman for SEIU Local 32BJ, said SOS managers have been saying to workers: “What are you doing talking to a union representative? Are you going to strike or not?”
Even if the workers had never spoken to a union, they still would have the right to strike. But in that case, employers are not required to give them their jobs back when they ask to return if their reason for striking is pay or benefits, and the company has hired permanent replacements.
If they say they are striking because the company has been intimidating them to discourage union organizing, the employer is required to hire them back — but convincing a judge that’s what happened can be a long process. And even when the dispute is settled, frequently workers don’t get back pay for the time they were out.
The guards have not set a day for a strike to begin.