— Workers Fight to Improve Wages and Benefits, Protect Employer-Paid Health Insurance and Other Industry Gains—
NEW YORK—Elected bargaining committees representing 14,000 security officers who protect major public and private buildings around New York City and are members of SEIU 32BJ will sit across from employers today at union headquarters in the first of two sessions to bargain for new four-year contracts to improve wages, benefit standards and working conditions.
“These men and women who sacrifice to protect us should be respected for being on the front lines every day to keep us safe,” 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg said. “These officers fought to organize and professionalize their industry. They have improved the security of the city and made all New Yorkers safer. As the costs of living in the city continue to rise, these workers deserve to have wages and benefits that allow them to maintain their hard-won entry into the middle class. “
32BJ SEIU represents security officers who protect commercial office buildings, higher education facilities, government facilities, museums, libraries, stadiums and other high profile sites in the city including the Hudson Yards, the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Fordham and Columbia Universities, the George Washington Bridge, the World Trade Center, and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Union members are bargaining for two contracts, one with the Realty Advisory Board, representing building owners, and another with a Contractors group, representing 16 security contractors.
“These men and women have fought all these years to make these jobs good jobs for working New Yorkers and they want to keep them that way,” said 32BJ SEIU Vice President Denis Johnston, who heads the Union’s Security Division. “In our post-9/11 world, private security officers are often first responders in emergencies at our tourism sites, commercial office buildings and public buildings. The city counts on security officers to be our eyes and ears, helping our police and fire departments.”
As the largest union of security officers, 32BJ SEIU has raised the industry’s wage, benefit and training standards, he added.
Raising security standards provides building owners with the better skilled, more professional private security officers they need to protect their assets. Raising standards across the industry addresses employers’ needs for a more professional, stable workforce with a higher level of client and customer satisfaction at no competitive disadvantage to individual contractors. Also, raising standards for private security officers offers building tenants and visitors safer, more professional service.
“We want to maintain the standards for professionalism through training, maintain the quality of the jobs by improving wages and benefits, and we want improved working conditions so we can maintain consistency in protecting New Yorkers,” Sabrina Ladson, a member of 32BJ SEIU and security officer at the Department of Motor Vehicles, said.
Ladson added that state-of-the-art security training, such as the 32BJ SEIU’s Thomas Shortman 40-hour program, enables private security officers to develop the professional skills they need to get ahead.
Nearly two decades after the 9/11 tragedy, 32BJ SEIU and its Security Division members have raised industry standards but much more must be done to raise standards across the industry and professionalize the entire industry. Private security officers deserve dignity and respect for what they do and who they are. Their jobs must be good, family-sustaining ones that strengthen communities.
“The campaign to raise standards in the security industry isn’t just about getting new contracts for security officers,” Johnston said. “It’s about maintaining standards that lifted many New York families out of poverty and continuing to provide an economic boost to our city’s communities of color.”
With 175,000 members in 11 states, including 85,000 in New York, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country