State PBA files labor charges against University at Buffalo’s downtown campus security www.privateofficer.com
Buffalo NY March 23 2013 The University at Buffalo’s emerging downtown campus does not have adequate security for its students, staff and faculty, the union representing UB police officers said Thursday.
Minneapolis MN Jan 6 2013
More than 6,000 Twin Cities janitors and security officers are pressing forward on negotiations to ensure living wages and better health care for their families.Members of Service Employees International Union Local 26 clean and protect some of the Twin Cities’ largest office buildings that house some of the wealthiest corporations in the country. Their contracts expired Dec. 31, but after more than a month of negotiations, employers have yet to advance any sort of economic proposal to address wages and health care benefits, the union said.
“They haven’t been willing to address a single issue we’ve put forward,” said Fred Anthony II, a security officer and member of Local 26. “We come to the table ready to negotiate, and each time, they give us the runaround.”
For the first time ever, more than 6,000 janitors and security officers in the Twin Cities and suburbs are negotiating new contracts simultaneously. In 2008, a new contract was negotiated for 1,000 security officers after they struck in downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. In 2006 and 2009, janitors voted to authorize strikes, but both were narrowly averted. At this point, there has been no strike vote.
Negotiations resumed Thursday and will continue over the next two weeks, the union said.
“I’ve worked for American Security in downtown St. Paul for 13 years,” said Anthony. “For the first five years, we weren’t part of SEIU Local 26. I worked three jobs, could barely pay my bills and struggled to make ends meets. Over the past eight years as a member of Local 26, I’ve seen consistent pay raises, bought a house, gotten married, and started a family – I’ve gotten a taste of what the middle class is about, and I don’t want to move backward. The proposals from the employers would lock us out of the middle class and back into poverty.”
The average worker in Local 26 brings in $22,800 a year; the lowest paid makes roughly $17,160 a year. The federal poverty line for a family of four is $23,050. In a survey, 89% of members said they would use a raise to pay for basic necessities, including groceries, school, rent or mortgage.
“The only proposals from employers so far have been the same things we’re seeing all across the country – attempts to cut jobs and reduce wages,” said Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26. “With income inequality at historic highs, these workers deserve a chance for a better future – instead, those hardest hit by the recession are being asked to make concessions to those who were barely hit at all.”
Source-Twin Cities Daily Planet
Frankfurt Germany Dec 13 2012 About 1,000 of 15,000 German airport security workers on Monday took part in token strikes, disrupting flights at nine airports in Germany. The Verdi union unexpectedly called for the action late Sunday to press demands for better working conditions, which include fewer limited-term contracts and unified working conditions at all German airports.
The strikes affected airports in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Bremen, Cologne/Bonn and Baden-Baden/Karlsruhe.
Frankfurt Airport reported minor disruptions; however, there were massive delays with long waits at security check-in points at Cologne/Bonn Airport. Berlin Tegel Airport reported 33 flights were cancelled.
Verdi said negotiations stalled after four rounds of talks in mid-November; they are expected to resume Jan. 15.
NEW YORK NY Dec 13 2012 — Security guards at John F. Kennedy Airport are threatening to walk off the job this month.
The nonunion workers say they want better training and equipment.
A strike-authorization vote is set for Thursday or Friday. If approved, they could walk out on Dec. 20.
The 300 workers direct traffic in front of terminals and check tarmac gates to make sure they’re secure, among other duties.
They work for two different companies, Air Serve and Global Elite Group.
Both companies say they are open to discussions with the workers.
The workers also filed complaints with the TSA, saying job conditions resulted in security lapses. According to the Wall Street Journal, the agency said an investigation didn’t reveal any regulatory violations.
Cleveland OH Nov 20 2012
Dispute over mandatory overtime drives security guard lockout at Miss. nuclear plant www.privateofficer.com
CHICAGO IL Sept 16 2012
Chicago Public School teachers got some reinforcements on the 5th day of their labor strike.
CPS janitors and security guards joined the teachers as they picket in front of schools.
The SEIU members wore their trademark purple colors, as they walked with teachers who wore red.
SEIU notified the school district this week that it planned to exercise a clause in their contract that allows its members to join the teachers’ picket lines in order to show union solidarity.
“We also have to let them know that it’s not just the teachers. It affects all of us,” said CPS security officer Takella Moon.
SEIU janitors remain on the job Friday, but they do have the option to be on the picket line.
CPS has over 1,500 janitors.
CPS teachers have been on strike since September 10.
That is keeping 350,000 students out of school.
Thursday night both school and union officials appeared to be optimistic that they were close to reaching a deal, but officials left marathon negotiations early today saying they were still ironing out details.
After a deal is reached, it has to be voted on by the union’s House of Delegates, which is meeting Friday afternoon to discuss the latest proposals.
Teachers cannot return to work before the delegates approve the deal.
Sticking points continue to be teacher evaluations and a method to recall teachers who have been laid off because of school closings, consolidations, and turnarounds.
Hartford CT Sept 7 2012 The union representing private security guards working in a handful of state buildings employed some disruptive theatrics Wednesday in an effort to raise awareness of unfair labor practices they say the New Jersey-based employer is using.
Impersonating SOS Security CEO Edward B. Silverman, 32BJ/SEIU delegate Wojciech Pirog hopped from a stretch limo on Capitol Avenue and proceeded throw peanuts at rallying security guards outside the Office of Policy and Management headquarters.
Go back to work,” Pirog shouted into a megaphone while holding a glass of champagne. “This is all you need. This all you’re worth. I’ll give you peanuts.”
The demonstration was prompted by an ongoing labor dispute between SOS Security and 32BJ. Though the guards voted to unionize, 32BJ political director Matt O’Connor said the company has not recognized the union.
In April, the private security workers voted to strike if they had to in order to force the company to make its required pension compensations. The guards eventually went on a one day strike in May.
But the union also charges the company with breaching their workers’ contracts by failing to pay its guards the correct wages, not paying holiday rates, and not resolving labor issues in a timely manner.
Responding to the Department of Administrative Services, SOS said in May that it had appropriately compensated all of its employees currently working under the contract with the state.
But the union shot back with a letter urging DAS to require the company to appropriately compensate all the employees who had been working under the current contract, not just those currently working. They also said some current workers were not included in the company’s audit that concluded they had all been compensated.
In a letter to SOS, the Administrative Services Department agreed.
“SOS remains in breach due to limiting the back pay to active employees only and not including ‘all staff assigned under the Contract from the period February 1, 2010 through present,’” Tina Costanzo, a contract team leader at DAS, wrote in August.
The department gave SOS until Aug. 31 to respond to the letter or risk the termination of their contract with the state. On Wednesday, department spokesman Jeffrey Beckham said he didn’t think the company had responded but DAS staff members were following up with them.
For the time being Beckham said the department was not terminating the company’s contract.
However, 32BJ claims the company was willing to terminate one of their employees for taking part in union activities.
Alexis Lozano, a guard of nine years, said he was fired from his job three weeks ago for wanting better working conditions.
“I asked for the rights of workers to benefits, for medical issues, sick days, and respect. They didn’t respect the workers,” Lozano said standing outside the building he used to work in.
Perhaps venting some frustration, the guards gathered Wednesday chanted and threw peanuts back at the man impersonating their CEO.
“Go back to New Jersey,” they shouted.
Eventually Pirog did get back in the limo and depart but not before tossing a few more peanuts out the window.
Representatives of SOS Security did not immediately return requests for comment.
It wasn’t the first time 32BJ and Pirog have pulled a publicity stunt to protest employment practices. Last December he dressed up as “Union Santa” and delivered a bucket of coal to the Hartford Courant which had terminated its contract with eight unionized janitors a few weeks earlier.
Source:Ct News Junkie Blog
“Wall Street speculators, big bonus CEOs and corporate lobbyists are undermining our country’s way of life,” says Jenie Tivis, a security officer in Cincinnati. “As security officers, we’re hitting the streets in order to protect the 99 percent.”
The security officers believe our economy should serve all Americans–not just those in the top one percent. Paid as little as $8 per hour, America’s 1.1 million security officers protect people and property at facilities owned by many of the largest Wall Street corporations.
Officers are taking action to improve jobs in the nation’s fast-growing security industry. In the Bay Area and Los Angeles, officers are standing up for fair pay and quality, worker-earned healthcare. In Boston, Newark, Philadelphia and Silicon Valley, officers will be speaking out about conditions at U.S. Security Associates–a company whose workers provide $1.2 billion in annual revenue. In Chicago and Indianapolis, officers employed by Securatex will raise awareness about the freedom to form a union, without management interference. In Cincinnati, officers who provide profits for Brantley Security will join spiritual and community leaders outside the Atrium II Building, owned by the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, to defend the freedom to form a union. In Denver security officers and community supporters will speak out about working conditions at local security contractor Advantage.
Evidence shows that throughout the 50 states and across the globe, more equal societies not only sustain stronger economies, but also perform better on a variety of social indicators. For example, more equal societies foster longer life expectancies, higher educational attainment, more social mobility, and more interpersonal trust while enjoying lower rates of infant mortality, homicide, imprisonment, obesity, and mental illness–including drug and alcohol abuse.
Photos of some of the participating security officers and their reasons for speaking out can be seen at http://www.StandForSecurity.org .
Hoping to improve public safety and bring good jobs to their communities, more than 35,000 security officers across the country have united in SEIU, the largest security officers union in the United States.
Prosecutors had alleged Ramey, now 61, a resident of Bowie and a former courtroom security officer, began embezzling from the union’s Chevy Chase Bank account in December 2005. She routed funds for a variety of personal uses, including cell phone bills, electric bills, vacations, and casino and racetrack bets. All told, Ramey wrote herself more than $80,000 in unauthorized union checks; wrote another $60,000 worth of union checks to family members; purchased more than $70,000 of merchandise through a union account; withdrew more than $60,000 from ATM machines; and withdrew or transferred more than $100,000 in union funds into a personal account. It all added up to nearly $380,000.
The pattern of theft ended in 2009 following a request by her local that she document certain purchases made with union funds. Unable to get satisfactory answers, the union, headquartered in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Colo., contacted the Department of Labor and asked for an investigation. It didn’t help that in March 2009 the DOL rejected Ramey’s request for a late hardship filing of the union’s annual LM-2 financial form. This was high irony given that her misuse of union funds, more than anything else, is what led to the hardship in the first place. Her stint as a security officer already had ended in 2006 after the U.S. Marshals Service fired her for violating security protocol and performance standards. Ramey, who at the time was president of the union, then known as UGSOA Local 80, filed a federal lawsuit over issues of freedom of speech and allowable union activity. The court dismissed the case in December 2010 as lacking in material evidence.
New York City NY June 2 2012 Negotiations broke down early Sunday between Consolidated Edison and its unionized workers, prompting the lock out of about 8,000 employees, utility officials said.
“We remain far apart,” said Michael Clendenin, a Con Edison spokesman.
Talks broke down about 1 a.m., officials said. Discussions centered around wages, pension and other benefits.
Clendenin said the system would be run by about 5,000 managers. Customers shouldn’t expect any adverse effects, officials said. About half of the managers have experience on the ground — making repairs and running the power grid.
The contract between the power company and Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America expired at midnight Saturday.
Union spokesman John Melia said the talks had continued “morning, noon and night” for 10 days. Union officials said a possible strike was still on the table.
The labor strife comes in the midst of a brutal stretch of 90-degree days, when the power grid is at its most vulnerable.
The utility serves about 3.2 million customers in Westchester County and New York City.
Con Edison officials said they had asked the union for a two-week extension to negotiate before talks broke down.
The 7-2 decision released by the high court this morning in Knox v. SEIU Local 1000 means that unions must give nonmembers an immediate chance to opt out of unexpected fee increases or special assessments required of workers in closed-shop workplaces, such at California’s state government.
The court said that Dianne Knox and other nonmembers represented by Local 1000 didn’t receive the legally required notice in advance of a $12 million assessment the 93,000-state employee union charged them to raise money for the union’s political fund.
In 2007, a district court ruled against the union and ordered refunds of the money with interest. San Francisco’s 9th Circuit Court reversed that decision as “practically unworkable.”
The high court said today that union opt-out fee policies “approach, if they do not cross, the limit of what the First Amendment can tolerate.” Then this summary passage:
The SEIU, however, asks us to go farther. It asks us to approve a procedure under which (a) a special assessment billed for use in electoral campaigns was assessed without providing a new opportunity for nonmembers to decide whether they wished to contribute to this effort and (b) nonmembers who previously opted out were nevertheless required to pay more than half of the special assessment even though the union had said that the purpose of the fund was to mount a political campaign and that it would not be used for ordinary union expenses. This aggressive use of power by the SEIU to collect fees from nonmembers is indefensible.
But CPS and Chicago teachers, who make up its biggest union, remain far apart at the negotiating table, with teachers planning a strike authorization vote for Wednesday,
The proposed three-year contract with the SEIU includes a “reasonable wage increase” and an assurance that no more union jobs would be outsourced, said SEIU Local 73 Vice President Taalib-Din Ziyad about Sunday’s announcement.
The deal also “keeps health care costs down and maintains fair discipline language,” Ziyad said.
But nothing in the agreement specifically makes up for scheduled wage hikes that were frozen by CPS in the last year for all its unions.
SEIU is recommending that its membership ratify the proposed deal.
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is under federal order to negotiate with security guards union www.privateofficer.com
Bethlehem PA June 2 2012 Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem has been ordered to negotiate with its security guards.
The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is under federal order to negotiate with the union representing security guards.
Sands earlier this year was directed by the National Labor Relations Board to negotiate, but refused, according to a decision posted Wednesday on the board’s website.
A three-member labor relations board panel reviewed the case and ordered the casino company to negotiate. The order also bars any effort by the casino to restrain employees from partaking in union activities. Finally, the order requires Sands to post for 60 days a statement that the casino company violated federal labor law.
The board gave Sands 14 days to comply with the order to post the statement and 21 days to comply with the other requirements.Should Sands casino keep fighting the unionization effort of its security guards?
The guards’ Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association is drafting a letter to Sands requesting a date to begin negotiations, according to union membership coordinator Peter Luck.
“July 22, it’s going to be a year since we voted to get the union in,” said George Bonser, the Bethlehem casino guards’ lead delegate to the law enforcement employees association, or LEEBA. “We were hoping … to sit down and negotiate.”
Sands had taken the guards’ request to negotiate to the federal counts, which returned the case to the labor relations board, Luck said.
A Sands spokeswoman on Friday released a statement that said the company is appealing the case to federal court and called the labor relations board order entered Wednesday “routine.”
“In order to appeal various irregularities which led to the certification of LEEBA, federal law requires Sands to refuse to bargain with LEEBA. With Wednesday’s decision in hand, Sands may now pursue an appeal in federal court. This morning Sands filed a Petition for Review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia,” Sands’ statement says.
Luck said of the Sands’ federal appeal: “They have the right to do that. But our members, at the same time, have the right to organize. … At some point in this process it becomes frivolous. I think we’re at that point.”
Sands will be fighting the National Labor Relations Board in federal court, Luck said, adding that the union won’t be a direct party to that action.
The guards previously said they were seeking a grievance policy, higher wages and reduction of health care premiums. The union represents 100 guards and was the casino’s first group of employees to organize after its May 2009 opening; no other groups have publicly revealed plans to unionize.
Bonser, of Wilson Borough, said the opening of Sands Bethlehem Event Center, the hotel and shops at the casino have expanded the guards’ duties.
“We have a lot of younger guys that have families,” he said. “It may be one of these instances where these guys are going to keep these jobs and make a career out of it.”
The guards are all employed by Guard Maintenance Services Corporation, which is party to a monopoly bargaining agreement with Local 24/7. Because California lacks a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary, nonunion employees can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
In February 2012, the guards reached a settlement with SEIU officials regarding an earlier round of unfair labor practice charges. The settlement required the union to provide employees with an audited breakdown of its expenditures and allow nonunion workers to opt out of paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining.
Despite this agreement, union officials failed to provide the guards with any details about their expenditures and sent conflicting information about how much money they could be forced to pay. Union officials then raised the fee for nonunion employees to a level that exceeds the amount paid by full SEIU members; a move the guards allege was retaliation for the first round of unfair labor practice charges.
The guards’ charges will now be investigated by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency which administers private sector labor law.
“SEIU bosses are trying to keep nonunion workers in line by forcing them to pay more union dues than actual union members,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The NLRB should put a stop to this illegal scheme immediately, but the best solution is a California Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary.”
A new report released today details how raising wage and benefit standards for more than 3,000 private security officers in Philadelphia could pump $230 million into the local economy and improve public safety. The report, Securing Our Future: Security Officers Standing Up for Good Jobs and a Better Philadelphia which will be presented at a City Council hearing on Monday, May 21st also shows adequate pay keeps more experienced security officers on the job and better enables officers to respond to – and help prevent – emergency situations.
“This report provides important evidence illustrating how raising standards for the men and women who keep us safe is a critical matter of public safety,” said Mark Price, PhD, Labor Economist, Keystone Research Center. “Paying livable wages and benefits is not just a matter of fairness and a responsible business practice, but it saves taxpayers millions of dollars with a rare opportunity to boost our economy.”
The 32BJ SEIU report, based on extensive worker surveys and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau found that increasing pay to help the average security officer with two children would mean their families would no longer qualify for food stamps. This would provide $140 million for Philadelphia’s security officers and their families over the next decade, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for the city.
The median hourly wage for officers, who protect commercial office buildings, hospitals, government offices and universities is just $10, with some reporting earning as little as $8 an hour. Few have benefits that include quality health care or paid sick or vacation days.
The paper illustrates how just compensation translates into reduced turnover and improved training. For example, in New York City buildings where security officers are union and earn more than their union counterparts have significantly less turnover than buildings with non-union security officers.
As the largest union of security officers, 32BJ SEIU has raised the industry’s wage, benefit and training standards in New York and Washington, DC. With more than 120,000 members, including 10,000 in the Philadelphia area, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.
SOURCE SEIU Local 32BJ
Jersey City NJ May 15 2012 Mark Reeves works as a full-time guard for a Jersey City-based company that provides security services for residential and office buildings. But his $9.50 an hour wage, he said, forced him to move out of the Jersey City apartment he shared with a roommate. He now lives in aroom at the Bayonne YMCA.
“The only reason I’m there is I can’t afford to have an apartment,” Reeves said. “In Jersey City, a studio will run you about $700 and I don’t make it.”
Reeves was among dozens of Jersey City security workers who attended the City Council meeting last Wednesday to show support for a proposed measure that would raise wages for several categories of workers, including those in the security industry.
In an interview with The Reporter, Reeves recounted the difficulties of being a low-wage employee living in an expensive city.
“Once I get through paying rent, and take out money for my transportation, and pay my cell phone bill, that’s it,” Reeves stated. “I can’t afford to buy groceries.”
He said he gets his food from soup kitchens and churches.
And he isn’t the only one struggling to make ends meet. Of the other employees who also work at the residential building where Reeves is assigned, two co-workers live with their parents and a third works two full-time jobs to make ends meet.
The company Reeves works for, he said, offers health benefits. But few of his co-workers are able to afford the required employee contribution to the health plan and therefore choose to go without coverage.
“Nobody on my site has it. They can’t afford it.”
Others who attended the May 9 meeting told similar stories to the local media and said they hope these stories will encourage members of the council to introduce and pass a proposed law that has become known as the “living wage” ordinance.
Last week, however, that ordinance faced several obstacles and was ultimately withdrawn by its two co-sponsors, Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop and At-Large Councilman Rolando Lavarro Jr. Days before the ordinance was to be introduced before the governing body, several other members of the council said the measure, as currently drafted, lacked specificity and expressed doubts that it could be enforced.
Fulop and Lavarro now hope to revise the language of the ordinance in time for it to be introduced at the May 23 council meeting.
Under the Fulop-Lavarro proposal, vendors in office buildings owned or leased by the city, or which receive $1 million in economic development subsidies from the city, would be required to pay contracted workers the prevailing wages for these jobs as set by the New Jersey Department of Labor. If passed, the law would primarily apply to security, custodial, clerical, and food service workers.
According to the councilmen and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which helped draft the legislation, in Hudson County the current prevailing wage for janitors is $15.70 an hour. Security officers would be paid at a level that is equal to at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage, according to the latest version of the ordinance.
Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25, so that means security workers would be paid at least $10.87 under the ordinance. State prevailing wage standards also include health benefits and vacation time. The ordinance would further guarantee that clerical and food service workers – the lowest level of city contracted employees – receive at least $10.50 an hour.
The portion of the ordinance that pertains to developments that receive $1 million or more in city subsidies would only apply to new projects that have yet to be approved by the city. Also, the law would only apply to developments that either have more than 100 residential units or more than 100,000 square feet.
Enforcement a concern
Fulop and Lavarro’s colleagues on the council said they supported the intent of the ordinance. But they said the version presented last week was unworkable and would be difficult to enforce – a sign that the legislation was not likely to get the support it needed to be formally introduced last Wednesday.
Members of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy’s administration expressed similar concerns about the wording of the measure.
One concern centered around the $1 million city subsidy threshold, which would apply to development projects that receive local tax abatements.
At the council’s May 7 caucus meeting, Corporation Counsel William Matsikoudis pointed out that since an abatement is a tax break, and not a grant, measuring the specific dollar value of the abatement isn’t always easily ascertainable.
Ward A Councilman Michael Sottolano asked whether the law would apply to tenants who lease space in developments that received abatements. When told that the law would apply to these tenants, he expressed doubts about enforcement.
Sottolano gave the example of an office building. If the developer of the office building received an abatement valued at $1 million or more, then leased the office space to several companies, those companies would be required to pay their contracted workers the living wage rates set by the city law.
“How do you plan to enforce that?” Sottolano asked at the caucus meeting.
Healy’s Chief of Staff, Rosemary McFadden, expressed similar concerns about enforcement.
At-Large City Councilwoman Viola Richardson thought it was problematic for workers to get accustomed to a certain hourly wage – then see their hourly pay rate drop once the abatement period ended.
Fulop had hoped to revise the language of the ordinance in time for the May 9 council meeting. That apparently did not happen and Fulop and Lavarro decided to withdraw the ordinance. They now plan to have it revised in time for the City Council meeting next week.
‘Times are tough’
Undeterred by the measure’s withdrawal, dozens of security workers employed with Jersey City companies attended the meeting to support the ordinance. Some city residents voiced their support for the measure as well.
Debate on the Fulop-Lavarro ordinance also coincided with a statewide initiative by the SEIU to raise wages and benefits for security workers. Prior to the council meeting SEIU held two rallies in downtown Jersey City, including one outside City Hall.
Like Mark Reeves, Johnathan Lacewell, another security worker, came out to support the legislation.
“Everybody is happy to have a job. But times are tough. We’re just making enough to meet the bills. Sometimes, not even enough to pay your bills. Sometimes you got to hold off paying one thing so can pay something else,” said Lacewell, who works at the courthouse on Summit Avenue. “After you’re done paying for everything, you’re left with almost nothing. And yet, our employers want us to put out quality work.”
The father of a nine-year-old daughter, Lacewell said he earns $10.50 an hour.
West Side resident Adam Albanese encouraged the council to pass the ordinance.
“A person employed full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour makes $15,080 a year, which is $3,500 below the federal poverty level for a family of three,” he said. “To put things in perspective, the yearly cost of living in Jersey City for a family of two adults and two children has been estimated at $55,440, more than three times that amount. Even if we were to focus only on an individual, the Poverty in America Living Wage Calculator estimates that for a single adult with no children in Jersey City the hourly pay wage would have to be $11.05 to be considered a living wage… with more and more New Jersey families sinking into poverty, the need to provide ways out of the hole and into security is great. Jersey City should join the scores of other cities that have raised the income floor for city-contracted employees to living wage rates.”
If the Fulop-Lavarro living wage ordinance is successfully introduced next Wednesday, there will be a public hearing on the proposal on Wednesday, June 13 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St
Source- Hudson Reporter
Hartford CT May 11 2012 Forty privately employed security guards who work in state office buildings mounted a one-day strike Thursday, protesting low wages and benefits in a standoff complicated by state rules over retirement benefits the workers say they are not receiving.
The workers signed up last year with Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, but their employer — SOS Security Inc. of Parsippany, N.J. — has refused to bargain for a contract, workers and SEIU officials said Thursday.
SOS has also refused to pay for a traditional pension, which is mandated under its contract with the state, the strikers said.
“SOS doesn’t want our union to represent the workers,” said Kurt Westby, Connecticut district director of Local 32BJ, which represents 4,500 people in the state — mostly janitors and building maintenance workers.
A person who answered the phone at SOS who identified himself as Gary said the company would not comment. Last month, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services said the agency was reviewing the contract to determine whether SOS was in compliance, but DAS has not issued a statement.
The security officers, joined by other members of 32BJ, shouted slogans and banged on makeshift drums at 410 Capitol Ave. Thursday as state employees exited the building during lunchtime. The strikers work at several buildings along that stretch, near the state Capitol, including the highrise at 25 Sigourney St.
“This is the worst company I’ve ever worked for,” said April Piette, an East Hartford resident and former U.S. Army corporal who has been with SOS for two years but has been in building security since 1994.
Piette said 32BJ approached the workers last year and asked about working conditions. She helped organize co-workers.
In all, there are about 400 private building guards in state buildings, mostly in Hartford, mostly non-unionized, said Matt O’Connor, the 32BJ political director. Most make similar wages — in the range of $10 to $12 an hour, or slightly more or less.
“That’s way below what would be the private standard for doing this work,” O’Connor said.
Westby said the company does offer health insurance, as required by the state — at $14,000 per year charged to employees who choose family coverage.
The group has not yet filed a protest with federal labor officials, Westby said. “This is our form of protest and we’ll see whether we can drive some change. … We’re talking with other guards, also.”
United Steelworkers union claims that security guard intentionally drove into striking worker www.privateofficer.com
McMinville OR April 15 2012 The United Steelworkers union claims that a security guard intentionally drove into a Cascade Steel Rolling Mills worker who was picketing Thursday outside the McMinnville plant.
But McMinnville police say the worker, walking across a driveway, was only bumped by the guard, who was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Capt. Dennis Marks said Friday’s allegations don’t fit what the investigating sergeant was told at the time of the incident.
In Pittsburgh on Friday, United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard demanded an investigation and said the union would file an additional unfair-labor practice charge.
A union lawyer said Lee Frakes, 35, was hospitalized with a leg injury and released Friday. “He is now being treated at home but is unable to walk,” a union statement said. “His wife is due to have their child at any moment.”
About 300 workers at the mill went on strike Sunday. Mediation continued through Friday as the mill kept operating with a smaller crew, according to Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc., which owns Cascade.
Schnitzer spokesman Chip Terhune declined to comment on Thursday morning’s incident. Gerard, the union president, said in the statement that members were “shocked and outraged” that the guard, who was not identified, received only a traffic citation.
Union and management representatives won’t say what issues the federal mediation is addressing. During Schnitzer’s latest earnings call with analysts April 5, executives said the company’s steel manufacturing business suffered from weak West Coast demand and volatile pricing.
SEIU 32BJ reached agreement on the new deal on March 28 with the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents major building owners like Tishman Speyer, the Rockefeller Group, Silverstein Properties, the Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust.
“I am very happy with strides we made in this contract,” said Rushon Miller, a member of the bargaining team who is a security officer for Royal Realty at the Bank of America Tower at 1111 6th Avenue. “Not only am I happy with the pay increases—we got an increase in each year of this contract—the 401k plan was improved and we were also able to get a personal day.”
32BJ represents more than 10,000 security officers who protect commercial office buildings, higher education facilities, government facilities, museums, libraries and stadiums. Members of the union protect other high profile sites in the city, including the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Yankee Stadium, Fordham and Columbia Universities, all three of New York City area airports, the George Washington Bridge, the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
“From the beginning, 32BJ has worked to alleviate the poverty wages and minimal training standards that have long plagued this industry,” Figueroa said. “Renewing strong contracts for security officers who are members of our union goes hand-in-hand with continuing to work with non-union security officers to create a path so they could lift themselves out of poverty.”
With more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington D.C., including 70,000 in the New York area, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.
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.
HARTFORD CT April 5 2012 — Private security guards who work in several state office buildings in Hartford will decide today whether to authorize a possible strike.
The Connecticut chapter of the union 32BJ is trying to organize the guards. Chapter president Kurt Westby said nearly 50 guards will vote on the strike authorization, with results expected at the state Capitol later tonight.
The guards work for SOS Security Inc. at buildings that house various agencies, including the Department of Public Works, the Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Westby said there are several hundred guards employed by at least five private firms contracted to provide security in state buildings. There could be similar strike authorization votes taken in the future affecting workers as well, he said.
“We’re prepared for similar strike authorization votes,” he said. “If the guards are met with a lot of resistance, it’s very possible there will be similar actions.”
Westby said state officials should be concerned about the issues facing private guards, who earn on average about $10 an hour and sometimes have to pay as much as $585 in co-pays every two weeks for family medical coverage.
“If you look at privatized security guards, most of them are living in poverty. Many don’t have any benefits, health insurance and certainly not pensions. They’re second-class citizens, and they’re really state employees,” Westby said.
A message was left seeking comment with SOS Security, a Parsippany, N.J.-based company with offices in Rocky Hill.
Westby’s union, which is part of the Service Employees International Union, began working five years ago to organize more security guards. According to the union’s website, the ranks have grown from 1,000 to 13,000. Many are in government facilities and office buildings in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and New Jersey.
Westby said the guards in Hartford have complained of alleged intimidation tactics by the company to discourage unionization, as well as a stop in regular contributions to the workers’ retirement accounts.
“They haven’t had any luck in dealing with SOS in regards to their issues,” he said. “They also want to be part of our union and there’s a variety of issues they’re willing to strike over, at least we’ll see (on Wednesday).”